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Diana Kuyper: Antioch welcomes its hometown hero

Columnist DianKuyper

Columnist Diana Kuyper

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Updated: June 7, 2011 12:32AM



Marine Cpl. John Peck is now Marine Sgt. John Peck and nobody has earned a promotion more than John, who lost his arms and legs as a result of stepping on an improvised explosive device almost one year ago while serving in Afghanistan. He miraculously survived his critical injuries, but initially he was on the brink of death.

The 25-year-old Antioch High School graduate arrived back in Antioch earlier this week for his first visit home, and he’s got a full schedule of activities that includes a blood drive and fund-raiser Monday at the Antioch VFW.

If you want to show your support for a hero, you can do two things. The first is to line up on Main Street by 10:30 a.m. and officially welcome him as he travels through downtown to the VFW, where he will be honored by many local and state dignitaries.

The second very important thing you can do is donate blood. His mom, Lisa Krutyholowa, works for LifeSource and arranged for a blood drive to replenish the many units of blood and plasma her son needed during his surgeries. The blood drive from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the VFW, 75 North Ave., will also benefit other fallen heroes.

Antioch Trustee Dennis Crosby, who keeps in close touch with the family, said it would be great if folks could spread out along both sides of Main Street to show their support for the 10:45 a.m. motorcade that will take Sgt. Peck through downtown Antioch.

“We are going to try to put yellow ribbons on most of the trees on Main Street and the VFW Hall will be decorated. The show of support will be greatly appreciated by John and his family,” said Crosby, who was on hand earlier this week when Sgt. Peck arrived home.

“One of the first things John did was to take off with a big smile across the front lawn of his home in his motorized wheelchair. He was clearly happy to be home. A number of people spoke about John over the next few minutes, and even though it was cold and becoming rainy, no one wanted to leave. It was a memorable event that none of us will forget.”

Crosby said Antioch police, fire, Marines and members of the Patriot Guard will escort his motorcade.

“We are anxious for as many people as possible to turn out for the motorcade and the event at the VFW,” Crosby said. “Please tell your friends and neighbors, and come out along Main Street in Antioch to honor John as he passes by at 10:45 on Monday morning. He has given a great deal in defense of his country and is a hero in every sense of the word. No one deserves our recognition and our thanks more than he does.”

Crosby added that the Sgt. John Peck Fund is still open and growing at State Bank of The Lakes, 400 Lake St., Antioch, IL 60002. “All donations will be put to good use for the long term benefit of our hometown hero.” So far the fund totals $95,000.

Diana Kuyper’s column appears on Fridays. You can e-mail her at dkuyper4760@msn.com.



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