Roll Call of Dedications

Charles Rexroat

Tree “A”: Basswood

Rank: Airman First Class
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Korean War Era

Charles Marion Rexroat served in the Iowa Air National Guard from 1947-1951 and entered active duty in April 1951 with the Air Force communications squadron becoming a Teletype Operator.  He was stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine and did his training as a communications specialist in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  He was discharged from active duty at the Air Force Base in Alexandria, Louisiana and returned to the Iowa Air National Guard, honorably discharged from service as Airman 1st Class in 1956.  He received awards for Good Conduct and Sharpshooter.

Charles Rexroat is an excellent historian, recounting not only the details of his own military service but of family and friends whose service and sacrifices he greatly admires.  He loves his country and his family dearly.  We are blessed to have someone we love so much share these stories and experiences and it inspires in us the desire to make a positive difference as he does every day. 

Dedicated by his family of Sycamore

William “Bill” Schlieben

Tree “B”: Chickapin Oak

Rank: Specialist 4th Class
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam War

William Schlieben was assigned to the 93rd Engineers at Dong Tam, Vietnam. He served as a transportation specialist during his tour of duty in Vietnam from March 1968-December 1968.

Dedicated by Blackhawk Moving & Storage

John (Jack) A. Leifheit

Tree “C”: Patriot Elm

Rank: Major
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Service: World War II

John A. Leifheit served in the U.S. Marines in WWII from 1942-45.  Jack was in the 9th Marines, trained in Quantico, Virginia and served in Camp Pendleton, San Diego.  He served in the South Pacific, landed on Guam, and received two battle stars as well as the Purple Heart. 

Leifheit attended DeKalb High School and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942. After his discharge, he completed his law degree from the University of Wisconsin.  He was an attorney is DeKalb with the firm of Leifheit, Cliffe, and Engel. In 1977, Jack became a Circuit Judge in DeKalb County, in Sycamore.

Jack married Martha Shafer in 1942. Martha served in the Red Cross during the war as well.  Jack and Marty had 4 children, David of Sycamore, Charlie (deceased) of DeKalb who served in the Army as an SP4 in Vietnam 67-69, Jane Koski of Rock Island, IL, and Elizabeth Espe of Shabbona, IL, seven grandchildren and seven greatgrandchildren.

Dedicated by his son, Dave Leifheit

Conflict Tree: Veterans of the Civil War, WWI, WWII and Korean War

Tree “D”: Hackberry

This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Known fallen heroes of these conflicts are listed on the Sycamore Veterans Grove website and on a sign located at the Grove.

Dedicated by corporate sponsor First State Bank

Rodney Breunlin

Tree “E”: Sienna Glen Maple

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
Service: World War II

Rod graduated from Sycamore High School as president of his class and in 1942 at 20 years old enlisted in the Army Air Force. He served in the Pacific Theater in China, Burma and India in aircraft support and repair, primarily for B-25 bombers engaged with Japan. He served for four years, achieving the rank of sergeant with two bronze battle stars and good conduct medal before being honorably discharged in January 1946.

Rod had a younger brother, Jim Breunlin, who also served in the war with the Navy aboard a destroyer in the Pacific Theater. After military service Rod returned to Sycamore, attended the University of Illinois, married Harriett and raised a family of four children; Doug, Billy (deceased), Becky and Jim. He founded, owned and operated a heating, air conditioning and sheet metal business, Breunlin Sheet Metal, until his passing in 1979.

Dedicated by his son, Doug Breunlin and Diane Breunlin, of Sycamore

Conflict Tree: Veterans of Vietnam, Persian Gulf War and Iraq/Afghanistan

Tree “F”: Hackberry

This tree is dedicated to all Sycamore veterans of the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Dedicated by Keith Monque

Roy and Lawrence Braser

Tree “G”: Hackberry


Rank: Private First Class
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Service: World War II

Roy Braser enlisted in the US Marine Corps on November 4, 1942 and served until November 24, 1945.


Rank: Private First Class
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Service: World War II

Lawrence Braser enlisted in the US Marine Corps on September 24, 1942 and served with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment until January 7, 1946.

Dedicated by their daughters, Joyce Mathey and Jill Braser.

Unknown Soldier

Tree 1: Triumph Elm

This tree is dedicated to the “Unknown Soldier”, a term used to recognize all service members whose fate is unknown and whose remains have not been identified.


Tree #2: Kentucky Coffee

This tree is a symbolic dedication to all service members who are missing or held as a prisoner of war. According to the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, there are currently 83,204 unaccounted for U.S. personnel, including 73,547 from World War II, 7,883 from the Korean War, 126 from the Cold War, 1,642 from the Vietnam War, and six from Iraq and other recent conflicts.

Dedicated by the Sycamore Rotary Club

Marilyn Stromborg

Tree #3: Hackberry

Rank: Captain
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Vietnam

Marilyn served honorably in the Air Force nurse corps for 3 years. Her military responsibilities included nursing care as well as all base education for corpsmen and Red Cross volunteers.

Following discharge from the military, she obtained a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from NIU and certification as a nurse practitioner from Rush University. Marilyn was a NIU Professor in the School of Nursing for 29 years (Chair of the NIU School for ten years). At the age of 50, she attended the NIU Law School in addition to holding a full-time faculty role. Upon retirement from NIU, she entered the legal profession in the DeKalb County State’s Attorney Office as an Assistant State’s Attorney and then designing and implementing the Drug and DIU Court. 

Dedicated by her husband, Paul Stromborg, Jr. of Sycamore

Herbert Holderman

Tree #4: Hackberry

Rank: Specialist E-4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

Herb was drafted into service with the US Army on April Fools Day 1968. He chose to serve as a Medic with the 25th Infantry Division.

He was medically retired in 1970 after being awarded 3 Bronze Star Medals. The family moved to Sycamore in 1979. He was instrumental in setting up the DeKalb County Veteran’s Assistance Commission and served as its first Superintendent.

Dedicated by his wife, children and grandchildren.

Paul Stromborg

Tree #5: Ohio Buckeye

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Branch: U.S. Air Force 
Service: Vietnam 

Paul Stromborg enlisted in the Air Force, and after pilot training he flew KC-135A air refueling tankers as part of the 410th Bomb Wing of the Strategic Air Command. He had several deployments to SEA (Southeast Asia) supporting combat air operations.

After his initial service he went on to medical school and specialized in internal medicine. He joined Irving Frank, MD in 1977 and practiced medicine in Sycamore for the next 40 years. In 1989 he joined the Illinois Air National Guard as a flight surgeon and was assigned to the 169th Tactical Fighter Squadron at the Peoria Airport. He flew regularly with the squadron in A-37s and F-16s. 

Dedicated by his wife, Marilyn Stromborg of Sycamore

Paul Stromborg, Sr.

Tree #6: Kentucky Coffee

Rank: Tech E-5
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: WWII

Paul Stromborg, Sr. served with the 732nd Operational Railroad Battalion in Europe. He received the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with 3 bronze battle stars and the WWII Victory Medal. After the war he returned to Chicago where he worked in banking for the next 40 years, and raised his family. 

Dedicated by his son, Paul Stromborg, Jr. of Sycamore

Irving Frank

Tree #7: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Captain
Branch: U.S. Army 
Service: WWII

Dr. Frank served as a medical officer at various army bases in Texas and at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His responsibilities were to give medical care to the POWs from Rommel’s Africa Corps.

After the war he joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs and provided medical care to Native Americans at Ft. Defiance, Arizona (Navajo tribe) and Ft. Lewis in Washington (Nisqually Tribe). He left the Indian Service in 1949 to practice family medicine in Sycamore for the next 50 years. He founded Kishwaukee Medical Associates in Sycamore which attracted young physicians to Sycamore. 

Dedicated by daughter, Marilyn, and son in-law Paul Stromborg of Sycamore

Sanford M. Cohen

Tree #8: Hackberry

Rank: Captain
Branch: U.S. Army 
Service: Vietnam

Dr. Sanford M. Cohen, O.D., was born Jan. 9, 1943 in Flint, Michigan and died on November 9, 1991. He graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry, Chicago, in 1967 and married Rebecca Frank, from Sycamore, on June, 23, 1968. From 1968-1970, during the Viet Nam War, he served as the Senior Captain of the Optometry Clinic, US Army Medical Service Corps, Womack Army Hospital, Ft. Bragg, N.C.

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Sanford (“Sandy”) and Rebecca settled in Sycamore to raise their children (Aaron Frank Cohen and Joshua Dov Cohen) and start an Optometric practice. Sandy loved being part of the Sycamore community and the people that he met every day. He served on the board of directors of the Sycamore Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Sustaining Member. He was also a member of the Sycamore VFW, Sycamore Music Boosters, Omega Pi Optometric fraternity, helped to create and develop the Sycamore High School soccer team in 1982, and was part of a choir that nourished his love of singing. 

Dedicated by Dr. Rebecca Frank Cohen, loving wife

Peter Johnson

Tree #9: Burr Oak

Rank: Tech-4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Peter Johnson and both of his brothers Frank and Wesley, served during WWII. Their mother was an immigrant from Denmark and was widowed when the boys were very young. She was so proud of the service her boys provided for her new country.

Peter left college to enlist in the Army after World War II started. He worked in communications in Saipan. During training before leaving for Asia, he married his high school sweetheart, Rhoda. Upon returning, Peter finished college and started a career in education. His father passed away during the depression and he credits many in Sycamore for helping his family during that time. He chose to work and raise his family of three children in the community he loved. He was an innovative teacher, coach and administrator in Sycamore for 34 of his 49 years in education. In his early 90’s, Pete went on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. where he was asked to participate in the Posting of the Colors at the beginning of a ceremony at the World War II Memorial. He enjoyed meeting and talking with his fellow veterans. Pete proudly wears his World War II veterans cap whenever possible. 

Dedicated by his children, Jill Johnson Rahn, Rebecca Johnson Feaster and Peter N. Johnson

Larry Forsberg

Tree #10: Triumph Elm

Rank: E-5 Radioman 2nd Class
Branch: U.S. Navy
Service: Vietnam

Rather than be drafted into the Army or Marine Corps and sent to Vietnam, Larry instead joined the Navy with his future brother-in-law, Tim Holmes.

After boot camp, the Navy thought better and in August of 1968, sent Larry to Vietnam to ply the rivers of the Mekong Delta in support of the Mobile Riverine Force (PBRs and Swift Boats and the Army’s 9th Infantry). Assigned to the USS Madera County (LST-905) and the USS Page County (LST-1076), he supported the MRF by providing ammunition, food and other supplies for 18 months. After Vietnam, he was stationed at Norfolk, VA, Cape Canaveral, FL and Pearl Harbor, HI. In 1975, Larry, his wife Steph and their family (Jeremy, Scott, Carin & Katie) settled in Sycamore and he was in the insurance business.

Dedicated by his wife and children.

Bill Holmes

Tree #11: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
Service: World War II

Bill Holmes was on Liberty Ship, SS Peter Silvester, when torpedoed on Feb. 6th, 1945 by German U-boat-862. The Liberty Ship had 174 crew consisting of several different service branches and 317 mules aboard to take them to their destination, The Burma Trail.

142 men scrambled aboard four life rafts and six life boats. Some were rescued after 2 days in the water. Bill’s group (92 men) were rescued by the Coast Guard ship, USS Corpus Christi, after 7 days, with 2 more rescues at 16 and 32 days. All men were taken to Australia to recover from their wounds and trauma from the incident. Bill was awarded the Purple Heart.

Bill’s daughter, Stephanie Forsberg, researched this incident and found four survivors of the SS Silvester, including Bill’s best friend.

Dedicated by his daughter, Stephanie Forsberg, of Sycamore.

Rolando V. Peña, Sr.

Tree #12: Burr Oak

Rank: E-5 Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

Rolando was born in Laredo, TX. He was stationed in Paris, France 3 out of his 6 years in the Army. His primary responsibility in Paris was as a Special Carrier of top-secret documents by automobile and train, from one base to another in France for top military officials.

Rolando completed the remainder of his time in the service stationed in Germany and Maryland, WA. as a Telecommunication Specialist. Rolando met his wife Julia and were married in Paris, France. During their 54 years of marriage, they had 3 sons, 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

Dedicated by Manny Peña, of Sycamore.

Benjamin Henderson Jr.

Tree #13: Triumph Elm

Rank: Seaman
Branch: U.S. Naval Reserves
Service: Vietnam-era

Ben joined the Naval Reserve directly after graduating from high school, knowing he would have to serve his country. His decision allowed him to have some choice about training and assignments that most young men at the time didn’t have, especially if they were drafted into the Armed Services.  He chose to follow his father’s Naval footsteps, served two years then went on to college upon discharge.

His helping personality was evident in his career choice of Firefighter and EMT in the small town of Sycamore. Ben is a model of a husband, a father, and a citizen who would fight for the ideals of this country while accomplishing his life’s goals.  His children Benjamin III, Heather and wife Cindy are proud to be the family he embraced more than life.

Dedicated by his wife, Cindy, of Sycamore

Charles L. Weeden

Tree #14: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Lieutenant
Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
Service: WWII

Charles L. Weeden was born on the family farm in Sycamore, IL on April 28, 1924 and finished his chores May 31, 2019. After high school Chuck enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1942 and was discharged a Second Lieutenant on March 31, 1946.

Charles trained as a pilot and pilot instructor for B/17 planes, he was then trained for the B/29 Flying Fortress and was sent to Tinian in the Mariana Islands to engage in the war against Japan, during which many missions were flown. When returned from duty, Charles married Donna Gillis and pursued his farming career, and “SO GOD MADE A FARMER”. 

Dedicated by David Stran

Donald L. Josh

Tree #15: Ohio Buckeye

Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Donald Josh served in WWII with the 38th Infantry “Cyclone” Division under General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific area.  He was cited for bravery under fire as a combat medic and received the following citations: a victory medal in American Theatre Ribbon, an Asiatic Pacific Theatre Ribbon with three bronze battle stars, a bronze service arrowhead and the Philippines Liberation Ribbon with one bronze battle star and three overseas service bars.

Dedicated by Maggie Peck

Warren “Mack”  McGee

Tree #16: Triumph Elm

Rank: Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class
Branch: U.S. Navy
Service: World War II

Warren “Mack” McGee enlisted in the Navy on July 10, 1944, leaving his devoted wife Doris home with their first two children Tommy and Carolyn. After completing Basic Training, he was assigned to the SS Albert K. Smiley, listed as a Liberty ship built just months before he reported aboard. He was assigned to one of the ships’ two 20-millimeter Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns. After the war he was honorably discharged on January 22, 1946.

Mack was awarded 4 campaign ribbons for his service.

  1. European Theater Ribbon
  2. Asiatic Pacific Ribbon
  3. American Theater Ribbon
  4. Victory Ribbon

Dedicated by his children, Tommy, Ca

Kurt P. Klein

Tree #17: Kentucky Coffee

Rank: Private
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam-era

Kurt Peter Klein served in the United States Army from 1962-1965, including overseas in Japan during the Vietnam War. Following his service, he attended law school and became an attorney in 1972, prosecuting criminal cases on behalf of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

He began his career in DeKalb County in 1977 as first assistant state’s attorney and was later a founding member of the Gallagher, Klein and Brady law firm. He was appointed to serve DeKalb County as a Judge in 1995 and was Presiding Judge for the county for 11 years, retiring in 2012. He was a leading force in creating the 23rd Judicial Circuit, facilitating the expansion of the DeKalb County Court House, and developing a safe house for at-risk youth.

Dedicated by his wife, Linda of Sycamore

Charles Gilleland

Tree #18: Hackberry

Rank: Unknown
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Charles Gilleland served in World War II. After his service he worked and lived in North Dakota and in Minnesota as a farmer and a union pipe fitter. After he retired, he lived on a hobby farm in Minnesota where he raised red deer and enjoyed working on classic cars. He had a huge passion for Chevrolet cars, and that’s why I am proud that I was able to buy a Chevrolet dealership in the great town of Sycamore.

Dedicated by his grandson, Ryan Gilleland of Sycamore

Marian E. (Hooker) Stran and Alan Richard Stran

Tree #19: Triumph Elm

Rank: (Marian) First Lieutenant, (Alan) Tech-4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Marian (Hooker) Stran graduated from the St. Charles Hospital School of Nursing in 1942 and later served as an Army nurse from December 1943 to January 1946. She worked in a surgical ward in a hospital in New Guinea for 19 months and later provided pre-surgery care as well as emergency care before patients who had returned home. She also supervised corpsmen and Filipino nurse’s aids.

Her awards and decorations include the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star, the Philippine Liberation Campaign Medal, the Meritorious Unit Award, the World War II Victory Medal and 2 Overseas Service Bars. 

Dedicated by their son, Dave Stran

Richard Gustafson

Tree #20: Red Oak

Rank: Engine Room Mechanic
Branch: Merchant Marine
Service: World War II-era

Richard was actively involved in the Sycamore community, to include positions as Vice President of Seymour of Sycamore,  Farmers and Merchants Bank Board of Directors, Twelve year member of the Sycamore School Board (serving at one time as President), Charter member of the Sycamore Education Foundation,  Sycamore Chamber of Commerce and Sycamore Human Relations Commission member,  Member of the Sycamore Lions Club, Elks Club, and Kiwanis Club and NIU Foundation Board member.

Dedicated by his daughters, Beth and Sue

David Dosier

Tree #21: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Iraq/Afghanistan

David Dosier enlisted in the Army Reserves in 1987 and was commissioned as an officer in 1992. David served on active duty for the next 24 years, retiring in 2015. He was an Army aviator and had operational deployments in Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

David’s last assignment was as the Professor of Military Science at Northern Illinois University, which brought him and his wife, Dawn (Weaver), back to her hometown of Sycamore. Upon retirement, David and Dawn chose to stay in Sycamore, where he works for Northern Illinois University.

Dedicated by Curt Lang of Sycamore

Terrence E. Ward

Tree #22: Kentucky Coffee

Rank: Captain
Branch: U.S. Navy

Terrence Edward Ward (Terry), September 5, 1934 to December 24, 2016. Terry graduated from Marquette University where he attended on a full Athletic Scholarship for football. Subsequently, he served 5 years as a U.S. Naval Aviator.

Following the Navy, Terry spent many successful years as a Senior Corporate Executive. After climbing the corporate ladder, Terry founded his first company in Aerecibo Puerto Rico and later started Viking Electronics in 1986.  Terry credited his success with his military training. Terry had the most wonderful stories about his Naval Career and remained close friends with many of his Navy buddies for his entire lifetime. 

Dedicated by his children Terry Ward, Chris Ward, Darby Dwyer, Tammy Ward and David Ward

Bob Wildenradt

Tree #23: White Oak

Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Non-Conflict

Bob Wildenradt graduated from Sycamore High School in 1948 and spent the next four years in the U.S. Air Force.

Upon his discharge in 1952, he married his wife, Norma, and they moved to Champaign, IL, where Bob later earned an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Illinois. Bob and Norma then moved back to Sycamore, where they’ve been ever since.

Dedicated by his wife, Norma, of Sycamore

Stanley  E.  Larson

Tree #24: Triumph Elm

Rank: Private First Class
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Stanley Larson graduated from Rochelle High School, where he was an accomplished athlete, scholar and leader. He joined the Army in July 1943 and was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division. He died during the opening hours of the Battle of Bulge on December 16, 1944, being later awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions. His remains were left behind as the enemy advanced.

In 2001, after missing for 57 years, two Belgian members of the MIA Project recovered PFC Larson’s remains and he was  returned to his family. He was buried at the Lawnridge Cemetery in 2002. His mother wrote this poem when he said good-bye to her on 22 July 1944.

You said that morning as you stood there
All dressed and ready to go
“Mother, it’s going to be years
Before I return to you”.

Dedicated by his nephew, Michael Larson, of DeKalb

Merle L. Swedberg

Tree #25: White Oak

Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Post-WWII Era

Merle L Swedberg served in the U.S. Air Force from 1948-1952. He was stationed in England at Sculthrope Air Force Station and later at Walker Air Force Base in Roswell, New Mexico. He is pictured here (on the right), with his hand on his hip. Merle was a lifelong Sycamore resident and after his military service, he returned to the Swedberg family farm.  He then pursued a career as a stone mason bricklayer and worked at Swedberg and Associates, located in Sycamore, for many years.  During his career he took pride in working on many projects in and around the Sycamore area. 

Dedicated by Jim and Jessie Swedberg for their grandfather

Eldon S. Lang

Tree #26: White Oak

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: Air Force
Service: World War II

Eldon Lang was one of three brothers that served in World War II. They were 2-3 years apart in age, but all went to serve at the same time.

Eldon was in the Air Force and achieved the rank of sergeant. He mostly served in aircraft maintenance, but also had some flying experience.

He died in 1962 from heart disease at the age of 44. He did not talk about his service in the Air Force, however I know he had many close friends. He showed his family a picture of him and his fellow airmen with the saying “Lucky Seven”. I asked him about the meaning of “Lucky Seven”, and he only said “We came back and returned to our families.” I understood he did not want to talk about it, and it was very emotional to him, so that was the end of the discussion.

Dedicated by his son, Curt Lang of Sycamore

Magnus Ingvold Ronning

Tree #27: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War I

Magnus was stationed in New York.  His primary responsibility was to plan and prepare all the mess responsibilities for his unit to travel overseas for combat in Europe. Here is a photo of Magnus playing baseball while stationed in New York.

After World War I ended, Magnus returned to Chicago where he married Henrietta Caroline Rienholtzen and raised their 4 children.  Magnus worked at the Continental Bank and Trust Co of Chicago from age 13 to age 65 where he rose from a page to vice-president.

Dedicated by Chelsea McGhee, Jessica Swedberg and Nelson Lang and others for their great grandfather

John A. Ronning & Leila S. Ronning

Tree #28: White Oak

Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade (John) and Cadet (Leila)
Branch: Navy & Cadet Nurse Corps
Service: World War II

This 1945 photo shows my father, John A. Ronning, who served as a dentist, a Lieutenant JG in the US Navy and his wife, my mother, Leila S. Ronning who served as an RN in Cadet Nurse Corps. Together they served at Sampson Naval Base, in Geneva, New York, and Paris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina during WW 2. In 1952 John was recalled into military service during the Korean War and served at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Following military service, John returned to Hinsdale, Il where he practiced dentistry for 45 years. John and Leila had 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. They lived into their 90’s a full and blessed life. Throughout life, they were a team- in every way. They lived a life of service- to their God, their country, their community, and their family.

Dedicated by their daughter, Karen (Ronning) Lang of Sycamore

Walter Eugene Carroll

Tree #29: Hackberry

Rank: Unknown
Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
Service: World War II

Walter was born in Oconee, IL and was the eldest of 10 children. He left high school at 17 to take part in the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he planted trees from Decatur, IL to Rockford, IL along Route 51, among other tasks. After his family moved to Waterman, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on February 16, 1942. 

He served in the Pacific, mainly in Guam and surrounding islands. His unit maintained and repaired aircraft. He was hospitalized in December 1944 for injuries sustained from an artillery shell blast. He was part of the servicemen who were fed flour made from the Cycad bush, later discovered to be a neurotoxin. He later developed Parkinson’s Disease. He was discharged in 1945 and lived in Waterman, DeKalb and Sycamore. He was a member of the Sycamore Lions Club, along with several veteran’s groups. He was the father of Juanita Carroll Mundy.

Dedicated by is daughter, Juanita Mundy

Ken Mundy

Tree #30: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: E-5 Radarman
Branch: U.S. Navy
Service: Vietnam

Ken enlisted in US Navy in 1966. He was trained at Great Lakes, Illinois in the use of radar. He married Juanita Carroll, his sweetheart from Waterman, Illinois at Great Lakes. They were transferred to San Diego, California in 1967.

He was assigned to the USS Black as a radarman and was sent to serve in the Vietnam War. Their assignment was to coordinate shore bombing for the support of the ground troops. Ken was also involved in many exciting events while serving in the Navy, some of which were in Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Midway, and Hong Kong. He was discharged in 1970 and they returned to Sycamore, Illinois where he served as Mayor for 16 years.

Dedicated by his good friend, Dan Hamingson

Maurice (Carl) Mundy

Tree #31: Ohio Buckeye

Rank: Carpenter’s Mate, 2nd Class
Branch: U.S. Navy
Service: World War II

Maurice was born in Canton, IL and moved to Dixon, IL as a child. After marriage, he moved his family DeKalb. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served on Guam, building runways for the Air Corps. He was a Carpenter’s Mate (CM2c) and part of LST744.

He was in Mios Woendi in the Padaido Islands and mustered to Morotai Island on September 23, 1944 in the Halmahere Group during the large battle there for the Pacific Islands. After discharge in 1945, he moved with his family to Sycamore. His son, Ken Mundy, later became mayor of Sycamore.

Dedicated by is daughter-in-law, Juanita Mundy

Daniel Hamingson

Tree #32: Burr Oak

Rank: Specialist E4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

Daniel Hamingson was assigned to US Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) in the Headquarters and Headquarters Command (HHC) of the XXIV Corps Field Artillery. There he served as an Operations and Intelligence Assistant. Daniel served in Vietnam from March 1970 to April 1971 and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during that tour. 

Dedicated by his sons Zack and Eli Hamingson

Kenneth E. Westberg

Tree #33: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army 
Service: WWII

Kenny Westberg, enlisted in the Army while he was still in high school in 1943. He served four years and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany he was a dispatcher with the European Transport Service. This organization furnished the transportation for the occupational forces in Europe. Kenny also received the Purple Heart.

After his discharge he came back to his hometown of Sycamore, and married Peggy Kallembach. They had three children. Kenny loved being active in the community and belonged to several organizations. He served as Commander of the Sycamore Veterans Organization, as well as belonging to the Sycamore Elks, Moose, and local Shriners. 

Dedicated by his children, Kenda Westberg Jeske, Sherry Westberg Johnson, and Kenneth E Westberg II

Walter Guzy

Tree #34: Triumph Elm

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Walter (Lefty) Guzy was born on May 5, 1916. He was a lifelong Chicagoan. Wally was drafted into the Army in November 1943. After completing Basic Training he landed on Omaha Beach 8 days after D-Day with other replacement soldiers.

Assigned to Patton’s 3rd Army as part of the 90th Infantry Division, he fought as a 30 cal machine gunner. He marched through France, Germany, and Belgium, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and met up with the Russians at the Czechoslovakian border. He was awarded the Bronze Star and was promoted to Sergeant. He married Josephine in 1940, had 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Two of the other memorable times in his life were attending the 3rd game of the White Sox 2005 World Series and being part of the Honor Flight in 2014. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 101. 

Dedicated by Carol Buras, Diane and Bob Brown and Family

Russel Heck

Tree #35: Ohio Buckeye

Rank: Specialist E-5
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

Russ joined the U.S. Army before finishing a music degree in college. After completing Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, he played French horn in an Army band for the rest of his service (the last year of which he spent in the central highlands of Vietnam).

When returning home from Vietnam, Russ went back to Northern Illinois University to earn a Bachelor of Education degree with a major in history. Most of his teaching career was spent in the Shabbona/Indian Creek School District teaching social studies. Russ married his college sweetheart Carol three weeks before leaving for Vietnam. They now have two children and five grandchildren and currently live in Lee, Illinois. 

Dedicated by his children and grandchildren

Robert L. Brown, Sr.

Tree #36: Triumph Elm

Rank: First Lieutenant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

First Lieutenant Robert L. Brown, Sr. was recipient of both the Bronze Star Medal and the Silver Star Medal. He earned the Silver Star for gallantry in 1945 for leading multiple teams’ attacks on the German Siegfried Line (a massive 390 mile defensive concrete series of forts) where he led different teams, capturing 9 pillboxes, 2 machine guns, and 25 prisoners.

He also personally destroyed an enemy machine gun and its crew of 5 with hand grenades. He never bragged about his war record and didn’t feel right taking any glory when so many had lost so much. He had no interest in guns or hunting. After WWII, he returned home, married, had a large family of 8, built a 2 story home and succeeded as a sales manager for  Specialty Plywood Company in Franklin Park. He died in 1966 of arteriosclerosis at age 46. We pray and thank God for him! 

Dedicated by the extended Brown family

James H. Boddy

Tree #37: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Specialist E4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

James H. Boddy, born October 2, 1941, son of Henry and Alta (Westlake) Boddy of Sycamore. He was inducted into the US Army in April, 1965, serving two tours in Vietnam before being honorably discharged in April, 1967 at the rank of Specialist E-4.

He served in the National Guard for six years prior to his active duty enlistment. Awards include Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, Combat Infantryman Badge, M-14 Army Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge & Parachutist Badge. Upon discharge from the service, Jim successfully owned and operated Boddy Concrete for 30 years; his expertise and pride can be seen in the many concrete projects completed throughout the community and also in the Virgin Islands where he and his family lived for five years. Favorite things include spending time with this family, antiquing & collecting old things. For your bravery, hard work and dedication to our country, we thank you. 

Dedicated by his family

Thomas Carls

Tree #38: Red Oak

Rank: Specialist E5
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam

Tom Carls was born and raised in Sycamore. Tom voluntarily joined the Army upon high school graduation. He was sent to Vietnam at 18 years of age and became a tech inspector, helicopter mechanic, and a door gunner on a CH37.

During one of their reconnaissance missions, his CH37 helicopter crashed into a rice paddy. Tom was credited with saving a fellow crew member who was drowning. They remained lifelong friends. During a second crash, the CH37 ended up on a beach surrounded by “hostile fire.” Tom received a letter of accommodation for “coolness while under enemy attack.” After his honorable discharge, Tom returned home to his beloved Sycamore. He and his wife, Debbie, owned and operated the Fargo Hotel and Carls Fargo Restaurant from 1972 until 2007. During those 35 years, Tom and Debbie loved and adored their thousands of customers who supported them. Awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Air Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the Marksman Badge (with the M-1 rifle).

Dedicated by the Carls Family of Sycamore

Terrance Bunge

Tree #39: Red Oak

Rank: Unknown
Branch: U.S. Marines
Service: Korean War 

Terrance C. Bunge served in the United States Marine Corps from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean War.  Being just 20 at the time, he left his family and girlfriend, Dolores, to serve his country.  He was very proud to be a Marine and to serve the country that he loved.  Although stationed on a battleship, Terrance says he never saw any real conflict.  However, when ordered to “blow the top off that mountain”, Terrance would fire the ship’s mighty guns and “that mountain would disappear”. Upon his return from service, Terrance married Dolores and together they raised 4 amazing children: Debra, Trudy, Erin & Kevin.  During their 49 years of marriage, Terrance and Dolores enjoyed many vacations in Florida alongside the ocean he loved.  “Once a Marine, always a Marine” is a phrase he often repeats.

Donald & Thomas Sundly

Tree #40: Ohio Buckeye

Ranks: Donald – Sergeant; Thomas – Technical Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Korean War (1950-53) and Desert Storm (1976-1992)

Donald (father):  After completing Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Don went to Kessler AFB, MS, for mechanics technical school, before being stationed at Thornbrough AFB, Cold Bay Alaska. He spent his time in the Air Force working on C-47 airplane engines and in the motor pool, as a mechanic and driver during the Korean War. Salmon fishing was just an added benefit.  Don returned to Sycamore after his service, married the love of his life Barbara and had four children (Thomas, Catherine, Daniel, and Denise).  He worked as a Tool & Dye Maker at Ideal Industries, for 34 years, in his beloved Sycamore. 

Thomas (son):  Like his father, Tom completed Basic Training at Lackland AFB, and received his tech training at Brooks AFB, TX.  He then went to Kedena AFB, Okinawa Japan, as an Aerospace Physiology Training Specialist.  He was then stationed at Beale AFB, CA, as a pressure suit technician, working with the record-breaking SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Returning to Brooks AFB, Tom worked in Hyperbaric Medicine, treating patients daily in a dive chamber. Tom ended his Air Force career at Edwards AFB, working with High Altitude Special Projects and being a member of the Space Shuttle Recovery Crew.   Tom met and married fellow Air Force veteran, Dawn, and raised three children (Christina, Alex, and Zackary). They settled in Harris, MN, where Tom continues as an instructor, training Union Trade workers on safety requirements.

Dedicated by The Sundly Family

John Devito

Tree #41: Kentucky Coffee

Rank: Cook and Gunner
Branch: U.S. Navy
Service: World War II

John DeVito, a remarkable man, dedicated his life to serving his country and cherishing his family. A proud member of the US Navy during World War II, John’s bravery and commitment shone brightly on the battlefield. He faced the perils of war with unwavering courage, ultimately sustaining injuries from shrapnel that left lasting scars on his legs. Despite these wounds, John’s spirit remained unbroken.

He continued to fight for the values he held dear, both on the front lines and back home. A loving husband and father, John adored his family and instilled in them a deep appreciation for their homeland, the United States of America. Through his selflessness and devotion, John DeVito exemplified the noble qualities of a true patriot and a remarkable individual.

Dedicated by

Joseph Dombek

Tree #42: Autumn Fantasy Maple

Rank: Tec4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Joe was an avid “Big Band” fan when he joined the Army. Although he aspired to be the next Gene Krupa, he wound up in training to be a radio and radar operator.

Joe spent most of his service time in the Asian Theater, primarily in India. Being a northerner, he always would remark about how hot the climate was in India. Joe spent his service time installing and operating tactical field radio transmitting and radar equipment. He became an expert in international Morse Code and utilized that expertise to send and receive messages on a daily basis. Like most of his brother World War II veterans, Joe didn’t really talk very much about his time in the service. However, he was a devoted patriot and if you spent any time with him, you knew that. One exception to sharing his story happened every year when he visited Mrs. Liebhaber’s class at North School where he would regale the students with his war stories.

Dedicated by his son, Jim Dombek, of Sycamore

Robert W. Brown

Tree #43: Hackberry

Rank: Airman First Class (E4)
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Vietnam-era

Bob proudly served in the United States Air Force from November 1960 to November 1964. After technical training at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, he was stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine as a member of the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

After his discharge, Bob worked as a television technician for several years in Mars Hill, Maine and then in Rockford, Illinois at WCEE-TV. Bob and his family moved to Sycamore in 1971. Continuing with his interest in electronics, Bob went on to receive his Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University. He and his wife owned and operated R. W. Brown Electronics, Inc. in Sycamore for 27 years. Bob called Sycamore his home until his passing in 2019. 

Dedicated by his wife, Joanne Brown

Vern Helbig

Tree #44: Bald Cypress

Rank: Petty Officer First Class – Ship’s Cook
Branch: US Navy
Service: World War II Era

Growing up, I never questioned that my dad did most of the cooking for our family. I just knew that everything he made was THE BEST! My friends always wanted to come to our house for sleepovers, in part because of the breakfast he would make in the morning. Dad never said no to someone who asked him to make a special cake to celebrate big life events. Birthdays, holidays, and weddings, including my own, were more special because of his creations. Did he get tired of making cakes? Yep! Did he ever say no? Not to my knowledge!

As we dug through some old boxes last year, we found his original Navy cookbook. What a treasure! You honed your craft serving those grateful men on your ship, but you came back and continued to serve. Our tummies are satisfied and our hearts are full. We love you, Dad! 

Dedicated by Sherry, Frank, Mickey and Marci

Dennis Sechrest

Tree #45: Bald Cypress

Rank: Sergeant E4
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Vietnam-era

Dennis graduated from Malta High School in 1963 and joined the Air Force soon after. After he was discharged he worked in Rockford where he met his wife. Then he went to work at Ideal Industries in their IT department, where worked until he retired.

He was a Little League manager for several years, and became the President of the Sycamore Baseball Complex until it was taken over by the Park District. He also was one of the founders of the Sycamore Wrestling Club where he made many lasting friendships. 

Dedicated by Diane Sechrest

Ronald N. Wirsing

Tree #46: Bald Cypress

Rank: Unknown
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Korean War Era

Ronald N. Wirsing graduated from Sycamore High School in 1950 and attended the University of Illinois. He served his country with the U.S. Army in Japan from 1951-1953 as a member of the Illinois National Guard, 129th infantry, 44th Division.

After returning from service he worked as district sales manager for Monsanto in Kirkland , was an agricultural sales representative for Northern FS and owned his own custom farming business.  He later was also a realtor in the Genoa area for 30 years.

Dedicated by Ronda Ball

Eugene A. Wirsing

Tree #47: Bald Cypress

Rank: Major
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Vietnam-era

Major Eugene A. Wirsing was born in 1933 in Clare, Illinois, and attended Sycamore schools, graduating in 1951. He entered the Air Force in September 1954 and in 1956 he received his pilot wings.

During his time in service he was stationed at Del Rio, Laredo, Harlingen and San Antonio, Texas. He served with the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing for three years at Bitburg Air Base in Germany, returning to this country April 1, 1966. He then served with the 3389th Pilot Training Squadron comprising 100 officers serving as instructor pilots for foreign students from all countries of the free world at Randolf Air Force Base, San Antionio and Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi where he died on May 1, 1967, while returning from a routine training flight. He is survived by a daughter, Aaron Maxson and granddaughter, Jennifer in San Antonio, Texas and two sisters in the Sycamore area. 

Dedicated by Carol Larson and Kay Schrader

David Wirsing

Tree #48: Bald Cypress

Rank: Staff Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam Era

A graduate of Sycamore High School, David completed his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO under the Reservists Forces Act. He then graduated from the 617th Field Artillery Battalion’s Survey School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

He and his wife Nancy (Hardesty) farmed together while raising their family in Sycamore. Throughout his life, David served in many volunteer and political roles, including Illinois Pork Producers President, Sycamore School Board and as our State Representative. His good nature, energy and optimism are remembered by those that knew him. 

Dedicated by the Wirsing Family

Ross Niebergall

Tree #49: Bald Cypress

Rank: Private First Class
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Ross was a 1941 graduate of Sycamore High School.  He married his high school sweetheart at 18 and was drafted five months later. He served in the US 254th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in France and Germany. He was discharged in 1946. While serving, he received several medals, including two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

Upon his return to the US, Ross continued as a partner of the Leader Oil Company.  He truly believed that “Life offers more in Sycamore” and in giving back to his community. He did so through his membership and leadership in many service and civic organizations.

Ross’s faith was a guiding force in his life. He was an active member of the Faith United Methodist Church in Genoa, serving on several committees and as a Sunday School teacher.  He was devoted to his family; enjoyed traveling the US; and loved life, God, and his country to the end.

Dedicated by his devoted wife of 74+ years, Roberta, and their children and grandchildren

Larry Carlson

Tree #50: Bald Cypress

Rank: Specialist E4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam War

Larry was born and raised in Sycamore. He was drafted and served in Vietnam. His primary job in the Army was to repair helicopters and keep them flying. When he returned home, he continued to work at Duplex. He married Bonnie Rohr in 1972 and raised three children: Scott, Anne and Katie in Sycamore.

Larry is the kindest soul, loving and most giving person. He can fix anything and is the smartest! Larry is the best Pa to Ali, Grace, Sam, Keelie, Freddie, Charolette, Maribelle, Ellie , Sawyer, Haddie and Ryder. He was proud to serve his country, but doesn’t talk about it much about it to this day. “It was a job I had to do for our country.” 

Dedicated by Larry’s children

Roy Thomas Fenstermaker, Jr.

Tree #51: Bald Cypress

Rank: First Lieutenant
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Service: Peace Time

Tom was born on April 14, 1933, in Virden, IL. Tom graduated from Sycamore High School in 1951 and the University of Illinois in 1955. While at the University, Tom spent 4 years in the Air Force ROTC.

While in the Air Force, Tom was based in several areas in Texas, Denver and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Tom and Joan Ruth Groth were married on December 29, 1957. They have 3 children: Ronald, Susan, and Kathy. Tom appreciates all the wonderful men he met in the Air Force and the leadership skills he learned. 

Dedicated by his family.

Everell & Mary Smith

Tree #52: Bald Cypress

Rank: Major (Everell) and West Coast Provider (Mary)
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps (Everall) & Red Cross (Mary)
Service: World War II

Everell Smith participated in action against the enemy as a reconnaissance officer in the USMCR on Bouganville, Guam, Guadalcanal, a second time on Guam and Iwo Jima. Capt. Smith detached for home and inactive status November, 1945.

Mary Smith served in the Red Cross on the West Coast of the U.S, providing and directing services to service members and their families. Everell and Mary returned to Red Wing, Minnesota in November 1945. Everell resigned from the USMCR with the rank of Major on March 27, 1956. 

Dedicated by his son, Peter Smith

Gregory Hughes

Tree #53: Bald Cypress

Rank: Sergeant
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Vietnam War

Greg proudly served his country during the Vietnam War with the 173rd Airborne from 1967 to 1970. During his time overseas, he was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Greg was an active member of the Sycamore V.F.W which he participated in over 200 military funerals. 

Dedicated by Diane Hughes

Robert I. Smith

Tree #54: Bald Cypress

Rank: Corporal
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Korean War Era

“R I” was a small town high school graduate from Taylorville, IL and married his high school sweetheart. Six weeks later he was called to duty thru the draft during the Korean conflict.

Being a fluent typist, he was re-routed to Zwiebelkuchen to work on Post War Relations with Germany until the completion of his military service. Using his G.I. Bill benefits, he attended the University of Illinois and earned a degree in accounting. He worked for General Telephone in Northlake, IL and in 1968 was named Comptroller at the Genoa, IL plant, settling down for the rest of his life in Sycamore with his wife (Betsy) and their four children. R I & Betsy operated a real estate firm in town and owned many properties. They were strong Christians and believed in always helping those in need with their generosity. 

Dedicated by Roy and Vicki Smith

William Lenschow

Tree #55: Bald Cypress

Rank: Specialist E4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: Peace Time (1955-1962)

In the year following graduation of 1955, the draft was looming as Bill and other friends boarded a train for Chicago. They were immediately inducted into the US Army and off to training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and Fort Hood, TX. Later stationed in Germany, Bill was part of the 2nd Armored Division, “Hell on Wheels”. As this was the end of the US occupation of Germany, the troops were welcomed by the European people.

Bill spent two years in the active Army, two in the active reserve and an additional two in the inactive reserve. After his years of service, he received an honorable discharge and returned back to Sycamore to continue his lifetime of farming and community involvement. He and his wife Kathy raised their five daughters (Sue, Sandy, Lynn, Kim and Debbie) on their farm, which included the ground where this grove is planted. 

Dedicated by his daughters Sue, Lynn, Kim and Debbie

Harry L. Benson

Tree #56: Bald Cypress

Rank: Tech E4
Branch: U.S. Army
Service: World War II

Harry was born September 12, 1919. He was drafted into the Army where he trained as a male nurse medic and served in the 19th General Hospital. He was stationed in the European Theater which included France and Germany.

During his tour of duty he was awarded Army Technician 4th Class. At the end of the war, he was honorarily discharged from the Army and returned to his DeKalb County family farm to farm with his dad and brother. He married Dorothy Olson on June 28, 1947 and helped raised three sons. The family moved into Sycamore where Harry worked at Anaconda Wire and Cable, the Kishwaukee Country Club and retired from the Sycamore Park District. He passed away on July 21, 2006. 

Dedicated by his family, Gerry, David and Dale