Paul Wood

Four generations: ‘Our family, we love our country’

CHAMPAIGN — Mattie Gray is one of five in her family to serve over the course of four generations.

She was in the Air Force from 1979 to 1983 and worked as a firefighter for a time at Chanute Air Force Base.

Staff Sgt. Gray, 66, doesn’t know much of her father’s history beyond that Sherley Young was a corporal in the Army in World War II.

He passed in 1995, she said.

Rantoul man receives veterans award

SPRINGFIELD — A Rantoul man is among six local veterans who have received the Bicentennial HONOR 200, commemorating the work of veterans who made extraordinary contributions to the people of Illinois

Bradley P. Gould is the local honoree.

News-Gazette Editor Emeritus John Foreman dies

CHAMPAIGN — Prize-winning News-Gazette reporter, editor and publisher John Foreman has died.

He was 65.

'It as a thrill' — Airman purified water in Vietnam, traveled the world

CHAMPAIGN — The night Jay Jackson landed at Danang, North Vietnam, forces lobbed mortar shells at them and hit a fuel depot that burned for three days.

His Air Force comrades were told to don protective gear, but they hadn’t yet been issued it, so they were told to hunker down under their beds.

Woman dies in 2-car crash near Paxton

PAXTON — A Champaign woman was killed Saturday morning in a two-car collision in Ford County.

Christina I. Curtsinger, 33, of Champaign was driving west on Illinois Route 9, west of Paxton, about 7 a.m. when her car crossed the center line, according to state police.

Her car hit an eastbound SUV driven by Pamela D. Goff, 62, of Gibson City.

Those who served: Maintaining aircraft flew him around the world

CHAMPAIGN — From the Korean War to the Cold War to Vietnam, Dick Oliver kept the planes flying for 20 years.

The Air Force master sergeant, now 86, remembers well the paranoia of the Cold War, when his family was told to head for the mountains if there was a nuclear attack in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

“If we had an atomic war, we’d all be dead,” he said.

Thomas was optimistic going to Vietnam

RANTOUL — When he heard the shout “incoming!”, Peter Thomas had the training to get out safely from the burst of Russian rockets fired by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars.

The retired Army 101st and 82nd Airborne command master sergeant is the longtime director of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy.

Obviously, he’s a survivor — four years in Vietnam.

Through IEDs, mortars he kept his unit safe

SAYBROOK — One of Jeffrey Beightler’s many duties in his many years of service involved the detaining of suspected Iraqi insurgents.

“There were 76 of us deployed, and 76 came back,” Beightler says of his well-trained comrades.

Those Who Served: Lieutenant colonel says he still has 'a lot more to give'

FISHER — In his 18 years as an officer — so far — Timothy Joseph Newman has earned two Bronze Stars, one while serving as a platoon leader in Iraq and another for serving as a brigade battle captain in Afghanistan.

Those who served: Down in a rice paddy in ‘Nam

THOMASBORO — At the height of the Vietnam War, Ron Castle and his fellow Marines had bad luck with helicopter crashes, but his worst injury was a minor one to his leg.

Other Marines did not fare as well.

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