Today, with a population of almost 10,000, the city is a has grown in ways residents of that time could hardly imagine.
This prosperity is due in no small part to Iten, who was killed in World War I, and thousands of other service members like him, who sacrificed their lives in the name of their country and fellow citizens.
And now, Iten and 20 other such heroes from Highland, will have an eternal place of honor here.
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On Memorial Day, Highland will pay tribute to local serviceman who gave their lives for their country during a dedication ceremony of the city’s newest road, Veterans Honor Parkway.
About a two years ago, Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis came up with the name for the city’s the northeast peripheral route. He thought the it would be good way for the city to show its respect to all Highland veterans.
“(But) I especially wanted to show homage to all of the local veterans who were killed while in the line and protecting our country,” he said. “I knew four of the vets personally.”
On Monday, the city will unveil 19 banners, recognizing Leroy “Lee” Iten, William Metzger, Delmar Kuhn, LeeVern Heim, William Stecker, Robert Fischer, Walter Maden Jr., Eugene Seifried, William Barrett, Jerome Korte, Delmar Schauster, Paul Siegrest, William Neudecker, Herbert Frey, Neal Rood, Richard Hoffmann, Floyd Roniger, Gary Vasquez and Aaron Ripperda.
Two other banners, recognizing Elmer Braundmeier and William Stecker, are being intentionally left blank as the city tries to a secure better photos of these fallen heroes.
Before the dedication, VFW Post 5694 and American Legion Post 439 will again sponsor a Memorial Day parade. The start time is 1 p.m. (Line-up at 12:30 p.m.) However, in order to coordinate with the ceremony for the new road, this year’s route will be different than past years.
The parade will step off from Highland Highland School and will march down Troxler Avenue, then onto Veterans Honor Parkway. It will end at Dennis Rinderer Park, which is located at located on the corner of Veterans Honor Parkway and Trestle Road.
The road dedication will start at 2:30 p.m. at the park. Immediately following the ceremony, the Highland Community Chorus will sing, and refreshments will be served.
Due to ongoing construction, the city is asking people to park at Highland Middle School, where free shuttle service will be provided to the ceremony at the park both before and after the parade.
For additional information or directions, call City Hall at 654-9891.
Following are short biographies of the service members being recognized along the city of Highland’s new Veterans Honor Parkway.
Leroy “Lee” Iten was the only soldier from Highland killed in action during World War I.
Iten was member of the 147th Infranty, 37th “Buckeye” Division of the American Expeditionary Force. He was killed on Oct. 8, 1918 at Benny Woods, France.
His remains were originally buried at St. Mihiel American Cemetery, located at the western edge of Thiaucourt, France. His remains were re-interred in Highland City Cemetery on June 26, 1921.
American Legion Post 439 is named in his honor.
He was the son of Frank and and Amalia Iten.
Army Pvt. William F. Metzger was killed in action on Feb. 2, 1943 in Tunisia, North Africa. He was trained in the Tank Corps before being sent to Africa in September 1942.
He was the son of William and Josephine (Vauple) Metzger.
His remains were laid to rest at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Ky., on March 3, 1950.
Pvt. Delmar F. Kuhn was a member of the Army Air Corps Headquarters Squadron of the 6th Bomb Wing.
Kuhn, who had undergone an operation in England, died as a result of a disease on Aug. 8, 1943.
After his school days, Kuhn worked at Wicks Organ Co., and he later at Polar Wave Ice & Fuel Co. He was also quite a hunter. He was the son of Erwin H. and Milda (Dresch) Kuhn.
He was buried in the Highland City Cemetery on July 24, 1948.
Elmer Braundmeier, a seaman 1st class in the Navy Reserves, was a member of the armed guard crew aboard the American merchant freighter William Pierce Frye when it was torpedoed by a German submarine and sunk on March 29, 1943 in the North Atlantic.
Braundmeier was listed in Navy records as missing in action for one year before being officially declared killed in action on March 30, 1944.
He was the son of Henry F. and Anna (Hagermann) Braundmeier and was married to Roberta (Reinacher) Braundmeier. There is a memorial placed in his honor at Salem Cemetery in Alhambra.
LeeVern C. Heim
Army Pfc. LeeVern C. Heim was killed in action on April 22, 1944 in Italy.
He had been wounded in January 1944, but rejoined his command after a month in the hospital. He had been serving in the 135th Infantry, 34th Division overseas for nearly two years.
Heim received a Purple Heart. He is buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy.
“Mannheim,” as he was known to his friends, was employed by the railroad prior to his induction into the service.
Navy Lt. j.g. William Warren Stecker lived in Highland with his family for several years. He graduated from Highland High School in 1939.
Stecker enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 21, 1940. He graduated from Naval Aviation in Corpus Christi, Texas, in December 1942.
Stecker, who had been serving with the Naval Air Corps, was killed in an accidental plane crash on June 30, 1944. He was the son of Andrew and Hazel Stecker, who lived in Decatur, Ill., at the time of his death.
Army Pfc. Robert Fischer had been in the service for a little over one year and in France for only two weeks when he was killed in action at the Battle of St. Lo on July 24, 1944.
Prior to his enlistment, he worked at the Danchef Brothers Egg Plant in Highland. He was the son of Charles and Albertina (Bornhauser) Fischer. He had three sisters and four brothers. Fischer’s brother, James, entered the service on the same date that he was killed in action.
Walter Maden Jr.
Army Pvt. Walter W. Maden Jr. was killed in action in France on July 28, 1944. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
He was married to Margaret (Ratchford) Maden, and had one daughter, Beverly. His parents were Walter and Mathilda (Wiegand) Maden of Troy, which is where Maden was born and raised. He had three sisters and two brothers. One brother, William Maden, lived in Highland.
Army Pfc. Eugene F. Seifried was killed in action Aug. 27, 1944, while serving with the 23rd Infantry in France.
He was the son of William and Rosa Seifried. He was a “quiet and reserved, well-known young man,” according to a Sept. 19, 1942 article in the News Leader.
“In this connection, we want to call to attention to something very unusual,” the News Leader stated. “Of the boys from the city of Highland who have been lost, four have been from that little corner of the city west of Walnut Street and South of 12th Street. Three are dead: William Metzger, Elmer Braundmeyer and Rober Fischer. Another (Seifried) is reported missing.”
A few weeks later, the News Leader reported Seifried was killed.
He attended public school and one year of high school and then went to work. Most of his work was at the Moulton-Bartley shoe factory.
Seifried had three brothers, Elmer of Chicago, and Victor and Elmer, both of Highland. He also had one sister, Irma Kissling of Glendale, Mo.
William Barrett Jr.
Army Staff Sgt. William Barrett Jr. was the son of William F. and Claudine (Nagel) Barrett.
He died on Sept. 4, 1944 from a heart ailment while at Funafuti on the Ellice Islands. At the time, he was on a hospital ship on his way back home, having been hospitalized since June.
Barrett had earlier attended St. Paul High School in Highland. After graduation, he was employed at Wicks Organ Co., assisting his father in installing organs.
He enlisted in April 1942, and attended the Army Communication Radio School in Fort Lewis, Wash.
He is buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in Highland.
Army Air Corps Cpl. Leo Erwin Kauhl, the son of Charles and Adelia Amelia (Bircher) Kauhl of northwest Highland, was killed in action in Germany in on Oct. 8, 1944.
Kauhl was one of the soldiers featured on the poster for Irving Berlin’s Broadway musical This is the Army.
Prior to entering into the service, Kauhl and his brother conducted a trucking business, bailing and hauling straw to the Box Factory in Alton. He had one sister, Regina.
Army Air Corps Sgt. Jerome A. Korte, 24, was killed in an airplane crash in England. A flight engineer (tail gunner), Korte completed his basic training at Keesler Field, Miss., and attended gunnery school at Harlingen, Texas.
Before enlisting, he attended the Frye Aircraft School in St. Louis. He was later employed at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in San Diego, Calif.
He was the son of of John G. and Emma (Benke) Korte, who lived north of Pierron.
Army Pfc. Delmar Schauster was inducted into the service on Jan. 26, 1943. He was reported missing on Dec. 17, 1944. It was later determined that he was killed on that date near Mehlem, Germany, near the Siegfried Line.
Schauster was born in Highland to Michael and Effie (Landolt) Schauster. He attended St. Paul Paul High School in Highland.
His parents received word on Jan. 23, 1945 from the War Department that their son had been missing for a month. They told the News Leader the last letter they received from their son was on Dec. 7, 1944. In that letter, he said he was “feeling fine,” but he was concerned because the fighting “was becoming very tough.”
His remains were returned and buried in the Highland City Cemetery on Oct. 31, 1948.
Schauster had earlier been stationed in England and Iceland. While in the Army, Schauster took some paratroop training, but the jumps made him sick, and he was sent back to infantry.
He had an older brother, Eugene, who served in the Signal Corps and was stationed in France.
Army Sgt. Paul Erwin Siegrist served with the 242nd Infantry, 42nd Division.
Siegrist was born Jan. 16, 1925. He was the youngest son of Louis and Florence (Sickmann) Siegrist of 908 13th St. He played trombone in the Highland High School Marching Band and was the valedictorian of the HHS Class of 1943. Siegrest had a brother, Fred, who was also in the service.
He entered service in July 1943. He landed in France on Dec. 11, 1944.
Siegrist received the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple of Heart. He was killed in action on March 2, 1945.
Only a few days before his death, his parents received a letter from him, which stated he had been wounded in the foot. But Siegrist told his parents not to worry, as he believed his injury was not serious. But his parents knew that their son’s feet had previously been frozen. He was in the hospital when he wrote the letter.
He is buried at Epinal, France.
Army Pfc. William Anthony “Pete” Neudecker joined the service on Oct. 22, 1942. He went overseas on March 23, 1943. He was a member of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon of the 1st Army.
He was awarded with a Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in action. He later received a Presidential Citation for Normandy invasion on D-Day and was also awarded the “Gold Braid” for his actions during the liberation of France.
He was killed on March 6, 1945 in Belgium by a sniper. He had been riding in a jeep as a gunner. He is buried in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium.
He was the son of William and Anna (Scheyer) Neudecker of 1600 Oak St. He married Coletta (Ukena) Neudecker of Moro on June 23, 1941. He was employed at Shell Oil Co., and coached basketball for a season or two.
Army Air Corps Sgt. Herbert A. Frey was born in Pierron to Oscar and Elizabeth (Landmann) Frey. He grew up in Highland and attended St. Paul School.
On June 3, 1945, he and 10 fellow servicemen took off from Clark Field on Luzon, Phillipines, but never made it back. The remains of all those on that fateful flight were returned in 1950 and are buried together at Fort Scott National Cemetery in Fort Scott, Kan.
Neil Rood was a sailor aboard the USS Helena at the time of the Battle of Kula Gulf in 1943, when the cruiser was sunk.
At the time of his death, Rood was well-remembered by Highland residents. He also attended Highland schools at one time.
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hilon Rood of St. Jacob. His grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. John Hembrank of Highland and Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Rood of Troy.
Marine Corps Cpl. Richard A. Hoffmann became the first Highland-born fatality of the Vietnam War. He was born Oct. 9, 1946, in Highland. As a youth, he lived with his family near Lindendale Park, where his father was the caretaker.
Hoffmann was diagnosed with polio when he was 4 years old, but he went on to become a star basketball player at St. Paul High School in Highland, where he later served as an assistant coach and mentored other players. He was mentioned in the News Leader sports section almost weekly. He played accordion and had a small after his high school graduation. He also attended a computer repair school.
Hoffmann enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 12, 1966. He served in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division. He was killed on Sept. 19, 1968 in a battle at Quang Nam.
A flagpole was later placed on the northeast corner of St. Paul Elementary School in his honor.
Army Sgt. Junior Floyd Roniger was born March 1, 1946. He was the son of Gilmer and Virginia (Hammer) Ronniger. He graduated from Highland High School in 1964. After his graduation, he was employed at Granite City Steel.
Sgt. Roniger enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1966. After serving 13 months in Korea, he re-enlisted at the request of a friend.
He went to Vietnam in 1968. He was killed on Feb. 20, 1969, while in a night defensive in the Mekong Delta.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart. He also received the Bronze Star, Air Medal, Gold Conduct Medal, National Defene Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Expert Automatic Rifle Badge, Marksman Rifle Badge, Combat Infantry Badge and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal and Ribbon.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Vasquez was killed on Sept. 29, 2008, while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Vasquez, 33, a Green Beret, died in Yakhchal, Afghanistan, along two other soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg, N.C., when their vehicle was hit by an explosion from an IED. Vasquez was on his third tour in Afghanistan at the time.
During his service, he received many awards and decorations, including two Bronze Stars.
Vasquez was a 1992 graduate of Highland High School and got a drama degree from Illinois State University.
Vasquez is survived by his wife, Sarah; his brother, Barry DuHasek; and his sister, Kelly Vasquez.
His mother, Margaret DuHasek, recently passed away. He was also preceded in his death by father, Frank Vasquez, a lieutenant colonel who served in Vietnam.
Marine Corps Cpl. Aaron Ripperda was born to Kent and Tina Ripperda.
Kind, rambunctious and enthusiastic, he could easily make his sister, Kendall, laugh. Ripperda aided those early in his school life, shaping his humanitarianism.
After he graduated with honors from Highland High School, Ripperda attended St. Xavier University. He later transferred to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Changing ambitions, he graduated with an associates degree in culinary arts and fine dining from L’École Culinarie. He excelled in being a chef and enjoyed entertaining with his cooking skills.
However, Ripperda always wanted to be a Marine. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He also had deployments to Haiti for humanitarian efforts, as well as the Middle East and Africa.
Ripperda was killed on March 18, 2013, during a mortar misfire while on a training exercise in Hawthorne, Nev. Six other Marines were also killed; seven more and a Navy corpsman were also injured.
Ripperda received many awards, including the Marine Corps Meritorious Mast for Outstanding Achievement, which honored his duties as a team leader, assistant patrol leader and vehicle commander.
Other Area Memorial Day Services
▪ Evangelical United Church of Christ will hold services at 8 and 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 24.
▪ Services will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Highland at 9:15 a.m. on Monday, May 25. Services will include the Highland VFW and American Legion Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps.”
▪ Services will be held at Highland City Cemetery at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, May 25. Services will include the Highland VFW and American Legion Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps.”
▪ Services will be held at St. Gertrude Catholic Cemetery, located on South Mulberry Street, at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, May 25. Services will include the Highland VFW and American Legion Honor Guard and the playing of “Taps.” There will be a Mass at the cemetery at 8 a.m.
▪ First Baptist Church of Alhambra will be performing a patriotic musical on Sunday, May 24 at 10:15 a.m. “Stars and Stripes Forever” will be performed by the church choir.
▪ Services will be held on Saturday, May 23 at 10 a.m. at the Harris Cemetery. The cemetery is operated by the Harris Cemetery Association, not affiliated with a church, and is located on Alhambra Road approximately 1/2 mile south of Illinois Route 140.
▪ Services will be held at Salem Cemetery on Monday, May 25 at 10 a.m.
▪ The Tobias Bilyeu American Legion Post 710 will host a Memorial Day Service Monday, May 25 at 10 a.m. Local Girl Scout Troop 426 will provide refreshments.
▪ Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24 at Robinson Cemetery.
▪ Dugger Cemetery, 10901 Lake Road in St. Jacob Township, rural Highland, will have a Memorial Day service on Sunday, May 24, at 4 p.m. There is a lane that goes north, back to the cemetery, goes north. Go up to the front yard of the home, and there will be a sign telling you where to go. Highland High School teacher Joel Hawkins will have the address. This will be followed by remembering the veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War and Civil War, followed by a bugler playing “Taps.”