Biographies of local veterans honored in Springfield

UNDATED – Local veterans will be displayed on the Wall of Honor in Springfield. State Senator Sue Rezin encouraged constituents to submit names, stories and pictures of veterans to be displayed at the Capitol through November 15th. Scroll through to read the bios of our local heroes!




Jay D. Trimmer, was born in Decatur, Il and has lived in LaSalle, IL since 1978. He is a widower, having been married to Eva for 65 years and is the father of 3 daughters, one son, 7 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren. He is a graduate of Millikin University and a retired Administrator with the State of Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services. Mr. Trimmer entered the U.S. Army in January 1943. He received basic, advanced and mountain training before entering combat in Minurno, Italy in March 1944. His division, the 88th Infantry, was the first all drafted division to enter combat. He participated in liberating Rome, Volterra, Laiatico (for which he received a Presidential Unit citation), and San Romano. He also received a Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge. On September 25 1944, Austrian paratroopers on Mt. Pratolunga near Castel Del Rio, Italy capture Mr. Trimmer. During the capture, he was hit by grenade shrapnel. Jay was taken by boxcar to Stalag VII-A in Moosburg, Germany. The trip to Germany took 5 days during which none of the POWs were fed or given water. Jay was placed in two work details in Munich, Germany. He contracted diphtheria while a prisoner of war and weighed only 75 pounds when he was liberated by the U.S. Army 45th Division on April 30, 1945.


In 1942 at the onset of WWII, the US Army asked for nurses and Eloise M. Richardson of Marseilles, IL answered the call. She left her position at Cook County Hospital and further volunteered for training as a flight nurse.
In March of 1944, Eloise was ordered to join the war effort in the Pacific Theater.  
On May 18, 1944, Eloise was on board a USMC plane loaded with 23 passengers including wounded soldiers and crew. They left Bougainville Island at 10:08 AM in threatening weather bound for Guadalcanal. That was the last anyone ever saw of her plane, crew or passengers. A massive search from air and sea continued for two days. No evidence of its demise was ever found.
On May 19, 1945, one year and a day later, a “Review and Determination of Status” was issued. It mainly reiterated what the Missing Air Crew Report had already reported then recommended a “Finding of Death”. That is exactly what happened. Eloise, and all those aboard had officially been written off as dead.
Eloise, her crew and passengers are memorialized with over 36,000 other MIA on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manilla American Cemetery in the Philippines.


Edward Stash – “I served from 1968 to 1990, retiring August of 1990 at the start of Desert Storm. I was in Aircraft Maintenance working on too many different aircraft to list. Left Illinois in 1968, assigned to various Bases worldwide, returning to the USA in 1998. Raised in Streator, now live in Ottawa. Photo taken in 1968 with my High School sweetheart, now wife.


1st Lt. Maurice Finkelberg
WWI Medical Detachment, 360th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division
Entered the Army 15 August 1917.
Being the youngest doctor in the detachment, he volunteered to go help the frontline trench hospital that was full of gassed and wounded men from fighting on the 13th and 14th of September.  He arrived on the 15th, and immediately realized more doctors were needed.  As all the orderlies were busy tending to the wounded, he volunteered to go call for help.  The Germans were shelling the regiment’s position, and 1st Lt. Finkelberg was instantly killed by a German shell that exploded in the trench nearby as he stepped out of the bunker.He was from Spring Valley, Illinois.
He was the only Bureau County officer killed in action.


Mike Venegas from Spring Valley IL served as a corporal and MP during the Korean War. His career with the U.S army and national reserves lasted for a span of 14 years. Mike always spoke fondly of the other local men getting on the train out of Princeton IL who were always leaving to serve their country.


Gary G. Hiltabrand
He was part of B Company, Second Battalion, 47th Infantry, of the 9th Infantry Division.
Since leaving the service in 1968, he enrolled in college to become a teacher and principal in the Streator area. He has also in the past done Veteran’s Programs for elementary school children. He has been also involved with Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day Services for the City of Streator.
He has been involved with the local VFW Post 1492 serving as Commander for 3 terms. He is now adjutant and chaplain.
He was honored as the Veteran of the Year Award in 2014 in Streator.
Currently he and a group of other veterans perform military rituals at funerals for the deceased veterans in the Streatorland area.