North Chicago Community Days: A look to future while remembering the past
By Judy Masterson email@example.com August 4, 2013 9:46AM
Commander of Great Lakes Captain Bob Bulis shows up for the first Flight Honor Hub to be established by North Chicago Exchange Club during the community days festival in North Chicago. | Mark Ukena~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 4, 2013 2:28AM
Amid the hubbub of North Chicago Community Days on Saturday, the name “Gunny” Foster choked the words and aroused the tears of Ted Hudson of Zion.
Hudson, 83, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who saw action in the Korean War, had just snipped a ceremonial ribbon on the festival stage to mark the inception of Lake County Illinois Honor Flight, a new hub for the national Honor Flight Network, which transports aging veterans, free of charge, to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at the nation’s war memorials. The new hub is sponsored by the Exchange Club of North Chicago.
Henry “Hank” Foster, a young marine gunnery sergeant from Waukegan who died in Korea on Dec. 8, 1950, still lingers in the thoughts of Hudson, who will take the memory of his comrade in arms and close personal friend along on the first official Lake County Honor Flight, which takes off Sept. 13.
Foster was killed at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir after a Chinese soldier, Hudson said he learned, jumped out from behind a boulder and sprayed him with machine gun fire. Hudson and his company helped rescue trapped marines at the reservoir, fighting through major Chinese offensives and marching miles through arctic cold.
“I still think about Gunny and all the others who did not come back,” said Hudson, who suffered severe frostbite to his hands and feet during the campaign, injuries that still plague him. “Am I still sad? Yes I am. I’m blessed to be a survivor of my conflict.”
Exchange Club President Paula Carballido, who said the Lake County Illinois Honor Flight hub will “benefit not just our community, but the whole county,” thanked her city for agreeing to host the program. Veterans who want to participate may file their applications at North Chicago City Hall.
The eighth annual Community Days drew a large crowd on Saturday, where the day-long event, held on Lewis Avenue just north of City Hall, featured a first-ever 3.1-mile family run and fitness walk, parade, basketball tournament, car show by All Wheels of Lake County, musical entertainment, health screenings, dunk tank manned by notables including North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham and Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, a myriad games, vendor tents, fireworks display and cuisine by new restaurants in town including Delores’ Place and Taste of Caribbean.
The event continued Sunday with a Gospel Fest.
“It’s been a great time and a beautiful day,” Rockingham said. “This is what it’s about — giving back. I just want to thank the (North Chicago School) District 187, Foss Park District and the city for working together to make this all possible.”
“It’s just great that people in the community can all come together and get along with each other, ’cause that doesn’t always happen.” said Donna Stone, a member of the North Chicago American Legion, who took up residence in North Chicago in 1970, the year she left the service of the U.S. Navy. “I’m glad they’re not forgetting the veterans.”
Also in attendance was U.S. Navy Capt. Bob Bulis, new commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes.
“It’s great seeing the community,” Bulis said. “There’s a lot of talent out here and a lot of pride. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”