Over 90 WWII Veterans are now “at home” in Lexington Cemetery. The beautiful display of flags at each grave for Memorial Day was poignant evidence that we have a very patriotic necropolis, with nearly one in ten having served our country. Thanks to our American Legion and friends for their efforts to help remember and honor all area veterans. Our Lexington Cemetery tour continues through the older part of our cemetery sharing the stories of a few of these heroes.
Notice the military markers as you proceed up the first road in front of SECTION 1 to turn left. On the NW corner in lot A1-3 find the military marker of Miles Ward, who joined the Illinois National Guard in 1939, was assigned to Battery G of the CAC anti-aircraft regiment for active duty, was eventually promoted to 1st Lieutenant, awarded a Bronze Star for merited service, and discharged in December 1945. He and Erma Sutton had married in 1943. They came home to Lexington where Miles served as postmaster for 25 years, was Lexington's first fire chief for 32 years, a founding member of the McLean County Fireman's Association, on the Lexington Library board, an American Legion officer, a church and community leader, and he also found time to sing with the Barber Shoppers’ Sound of Illinois Chorus – certainly a local hero to many in Lexington!
Proceed south on the road between SECTION 2 and SECTION 3, looking right to find the military marker of Ormond K. Siron in 3-184. He was born in Lexington in 1918 to William and Lena Siron and graduated with the LHS class of 1936. Ormond entered the service in 1941 and progressed to 2nd Lieutenant bombardier by 1943. The nine members of his bomber crew on the B-24 Liberator were all sent to New Guinea where they flew together on many successful missions. Their fatal crash happened on March 23, 1944, in which all were killed and brought home together, to then be taken to their former homes for burial. THE FORT treasures a collection of the Siron WWII letters to and from Ormond and his mother Lena Siron.
Proceed a few feet south on the left to the Ogden Family Plot in SECTION 2 to find the military marker of Albert Obediah Ogden marked Utah PFC US Army. He was overseas for 24 months and earned 3 battle stars for his WWII service. He had married Ethel Smith in 1927 in Colfax and they had 7 children. He was a copper miner in Ely, Nevada, served during WWII from Utah, and lived in far-off Montana for many years, but the son of Francis, grandson of Obediah, and great-grandson of Samuel, he (and wife Ethel) returned “home” to Lexington for burial in the Ogden family plot.
Turn the corner to go north to the Wick Family plot on the left in SECTION 4. Richard Wick has both a civilian and military marker commemorating his service in the US Navy during WWII. He “came home” to be a successful farmer, join the American Legion, marry Alice Dunlap, have 3 children, drive a school bus for 40 years, and serve his church and community for a fulfilling lifetime of memories and honor.
On the SW corner of SECTION 5 find the Wheeler Family plot and the cenotaph memorial marker for Chief Petty Officer Robert Emerson Wheeler who was lost at sea from the aircraft carrier USS Franklin in an attack by Japanese planes on March 19, 1945 near Okinawa. Wheeler was a radio operator and one of a thousand casualties on the ship, which amazingly survived the battle and limped back to the USA. Robert had been in the Navy for nearly 7 years at that point in his Navy career, and he had been in many battles and even was rescued from the USS Lexington when it was attacked and destroyed early in the war. He left a wife and 4 children along with his parents Emmett and Mary Wheeler in Lexington. His marker is a memorial to a young man lost much too soon.
Skip over to the last west road to find the markers of the Malcom boys, sons of John G. and Ocie Skidmore Malcom in SECTION 7. John J. Malcom graduated from LHS and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the medical detachment, Fourth Service Command. He married Mary Jean Reeves of Gridley and they had 3 daughters. He retired from State Farm in 1985 and Mary died on their 58th Anniversary after a busy life in central Illinois enjoying their five grandchildren.
Brother Lyle enlisted in the Air Force in 1938 and flew throughout his 22-year Air Force career, serving in both WWII and Korea. He married Stella Warren of Illinois and they had one daughter, Linda. In 1960 Capt. Lyle F. Malcom was stationed at Langley AFB serving in the Tactical Air Command in charge of a crew of six on a giant KB50-K tanker used for midair refueling of jet fighter planes. On a local night navigation mission their huge plane crashed shortly after take-off, killing all on board. Lyle was returned “home” to Lexington for burial in the Malcom family plot.
These contrasting stories represent the many branches of service embraced by our veterans, the differing ways they “came home” at the end of their lives. Each marker unveils a unique story and a life to be remembered and honored. If only we had the time and space to know each one.
Open to the Public ALERT
THE FORT is again open to the public after being closed for over a year due to the virus shutdown rules.
Open Wednesday - Friday - Saturday
9am to 2pm
Call or email for appointment if needed.
During the winter months our volunteers try their best to open THE FORT regularly, but if the conditions warrant precautions, please call ahead to be sure we are open. If schools are closed, THE FORT is probably closed, too!