Local veterans organizations and residents honored World War II Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Walter E. Truemper Saturday afternoon with the dedication of a 25-foot-tall flagpole and memorial monument at Truemper's gravesite in St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery in Montgomery.
The Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club of Montgomery raised funds for the project honoring Truemper, who was killed in action on Feb. 20, 1944 during a mission over Leipzig, Germany.
Members of Truemper's family were present at the ceremony as the memorial was unveiled.
According to historical accounts, Truemper's aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters, and the pilot severely wounded and another member killed. Most of the crew bailed out. Truemper and the flight engineer, Sgt. Archie Mathias, would not leave the wounded pilot, so they attempted a landing. The aircraft crashed and all three were killed. Truemper and Mathias both were awarded the Medal of Honor.
Truemper was 25 years old when he was killed.
Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley spoke during the ceremony, as did Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Allen J. Lynch. Pastor Ed Doepel of Resurrection Church gave the invocation and Rev. Danny Tutwiler of St. Paul Lutheran Church gave the benediction.
Montgomery VFW Post 7452 presented colors and gave a three-volley rifle salute. World War II veteran Don Thompson, 97, who said he was a classmate of Truemper's, lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Jim Cornelison, national anthem singer for the Chicago Blackhawks, sang the anthem during the ceremony.
The installation of the flagpole, lighting and monument are the result of donations from several local residents and businesses, including The Dunham Fund Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley; The Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club; The Fox Valley Marine Detachment 1233: Vietnam Moving Wall – Oswego; Roosevelt American Legion Post 84; Omer and Wanda Horton; Herschel and Eva Luckinbill; St. Paul Cemetery; St. Paul Lutheran Church; Uncommon USA Flag Co.; and other private donors.
To become a contributor, make check payable to Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club (FVVBC) and mail to 1603 Timber Lane Drive, Montgomery, IL 60538. Designate Walter E. Truemper Memorial Fund on the memo line.
Oswego Ledger photos by Tony Scott