Park Forest Honors Local Heroes

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SPC. Blake Dodds, U.S. Army, comforts his mother as Deana Williams sings the closing song at Park Forest’s Veterans Day celebration. (Photo: Wendy Heise)

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— The Village of Park Forest honored local men and women who currently serve or have served in the armed forces. The ceremony on Tuesday, November 13, before the Village Board meeting. Fr. Jim Schwab from St. Mary Church in Park Forest offered an opening prayer, and Alyssa Cox from First Apostolic Church of Steger sang an opening song. Deana Williams, a student at St. Mary School, sang the closing song for the event.

Those honored include ENS. Nancy G. Harris, U.S. Navy; LCPL. Brian Wiley, U.S. Marines; SSgt. David O’Leary, U.S. Army; SPC. Ryan Langston, U.S. Army; MSG. Kimberly A. Spivey, U.S. Amry Reserve, OIF/OEF Disabled Veteran; SPC. Blake Dodds, U.S. Army; Justin Pomaraski, U.S. Marines; and LCPL. DeShaun Smith, U.S. Marines.

According to the program distributed for the ceremony, MSG. Kimberly A. Spivey served during Desert Storm, Desert Shield and in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, she served s Seargeant Major for the Defense Reform Directorate, which trains and mentors the Afghanistan National Army. She has received the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, The National Defense Medal, South West Asia Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Medal. MSG. Spivey is a Disabled Veteran.

ENS. Nancy G. Harris is half way through her scheduled deployment aboard the guided missile destroyer, U.S.S. John Paul Jones. She is among 20,000 sialors and 12,000 Australian personnel who participated in the military training exercise Talisman Saber 2007. She recently "crossed the line" (equator) and became a Trusty Shellback. She says she is very proud of that.

LCPL. Brian Wiley returned from his second deployment in Iraq in July, 2007. He is currently stationed at Twentynine Palms, California, and was recently featured in eNews Park Forest.

SSgt. David O’Leary was deployed to Iraq from March 2003 until March 2004. He was a Park Forest resident from 1991 until 2004. he has been working for the Will County Sheriff Department for 17 years.

SPC. Ryan Langsont was deployed to Iraq in 2003. he was with the 101st Airbourne 1st Brigade, 2nd battalion, where he received numerous combat medals. He now attends Western Illinois University and is on the Dean’s List.

SPC. Blake Dodds was deployed in March of 2007 overseas to serve his first tour in Iraq. he is currently a combat engineer, stationed south of Baghdad. he drives a buffalo, an armored vehicle with a mechanical arm, and conducts route clearance in support of the 3rd brigade. he searches for IEDs (Improvised Exploding Devices), bombs buried beneath the roads. he removes the threat by safely detonating them.

Justin Pomaraski is back state-side and serving in South Carolina.

LCPL. DeShaun Smith is currently serving in Iraq.

Village Manager Tom Mick commented that the ceremony might be held in Freedom Hall next year because it is drawing such large crowds.  He commended Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Villager Manager Judith Lancaster for her work in organizing the event.

Pictures from this event are available in the Photo Gallery.