Fithian Veterans Memorial Park ready
BY KAMMIE RICHTER
FITHIAN August 15, 2008 11:36 am
Don Huckaby had been friends with John Robert Anderegg, who had served in the
Vietnam War and was included in the book “Swift Boat Down” by James W. Steffes.
Anderegg had the assignment of guarding the coast of Vietnam aboard PCF-19.
It was sunk by two rockets from an unidentified aircraft near the border between
North and South Vietnam in June 1968. Steffes’ book addresses the issue of
whether or not the boat was sunk by friendly fire. A signed copy of the book is
available at the Danville Public Library, with handwritten words, “In memory of
GMG3 John Robert Anderegg of Fithian, IL.”
After the war, Anderegg came back home to Fithian where he and Huckaby would
often play their guitars together.
Then, one fateful day, things would never be the same. Huckaby said, “It was a
fluke deal. The mag wheel broke and threw Bob up in the air in front of Oakwood
High School. He had survived the Vietnam War to come home and die in a crash in
Huckaby approached the Fithian Village Board and asked for a monument in memory
of Anderegg at the corner of Main and Washington streets, which is as, Huckaby
said, “right smack in the middle of town.”
Huckaby said, “I put it to the village board that we needed an area to honor our
veterans and that the Steffes’ book had brought out the heroes like Bob Anderegg.”
Board members agreed a memorial would be nice, but they suggested that it be a
park in memory of all who had served in the armed forces.
Huckaby applied for a Keep Vermilion County Beautiful grant and received $500 in
2007 for perennials to place around the flagpole. Teri Childress, who is part of
the village board and also works at Danville Gardens, helped with this aspect of
the project. The Fithian Women’s Club donated time and labor to keep the area
weeded and watered.
Huckaby went on to raise $2,000 for the full-color plaque of Anderegg placed
atop a stone monument, and many people from the community became involved as the
project took off.
Loren Kinney, Fithian’s mayor, helped the cause, as his son, Tim, works at
Leverenz Memorials. Mitch Leverenz of Leverenz Memorials donated the labor and
the stone at cost, and poured the base. Illini Fence of Fithian donated the flag
pole and dug the hole. Danville Gardens donated the flowers for the barrels,
Triguard created the plaque and the village board helped with supplies.
The completed plaque faces east and is bronze with all emblems of the five
branches of the military included. The monument honoring Anderegg faces
northeast, and includes a photo of the swift boat with the American flag flying
above it. Future plans include more walks and more trees. There is one walkway
now with the school bell from the old Fithian school, and an old park bench from
St. Elizabeth Hospital.
“I just got things started, but so many others have helped. Lots of local folk
who knew him helped out,” Huckaby said. The completed area at the southwest
corner of Main and Washington is ready for visitors. Flowers have been planted
around the flagpole, and Old Glory will be waving in the breeze, honoring the
brave who have fought for our country.
Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.
Used with permission of publisher
Don Huckaby looks at the John Robert Anderegg Memorial in the Fithian Veterans
Return to PCF 19
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