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Special veterans event in Illinois

April 28, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 27, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.


Saturday was a very special day in Minonk, Woodford County, Ill. This town of 2,168 is located in the heart of the agricultural corn belt of north-central Illinois. They exemplify what has made our country great. They are all fine folk who are extremely patriotic and who take immense pride in our country and what it stands for. Their credo for life is hard work, honesty and the belief in a Divine Being of their choosing. I was honored to be there with them. They all share a dream that one day, Chicago will be admitted as our 51st state.

Why was I there? This is the hometown of my late wife, Jean. Her brother, Jim, and his wife, Mary Petri Ford, still live there.

Saturday, the town folk and local American Legion Post No. 142, held a grand celebration to recognize a very unusual coincidence of World War II.

Mary was one of eight children. She was the only female and had to put up with seven active Petri brothers.

The unusual coincidence is the fact that all seven brothers proudly served in military service to our country at the same time. Thankfully, they all survived the experience.

I was made aware of this service when Mary showed me a picture of all seven being inducted into the local American Legion Post No. 142 in the immediate post-war period. What a grand picture that is and how unusual. Not many families had seven or more members involved in military service at the same time and even fewer had all of them survive that service.

Their service was extremely varied. They all served with pride. Their names and a brief description of their service are as follows:

Eugene Petri - Served in the Army Air Forces in supply with some time spent in Amarillo.

Norbert Petri - Served in the Army Air Forces flying B-24 including the raid on Ploesti, Romania.

Virgil Petri - Served in the Marines on Iwo Jima and in the occupation of Japan.

Joe Petri - Served in the Army in Alaska.

Marion Petri - Served in the Navy at Iwo Jima. By chance, Marion and Virgil met on Iwo Jima not knowing each other was there.

John Petri - Served in the Seabees on Guam.

Julian Petri - Served in the Seabees on Okinawa.

John and Julian are twins and both joined the Navy on the same day.

What a grand day this was. Thankfully, the weather cooperated. The ceremony was conducted by the local government officials of Minonk. Also taking part were special representatives of the Illinois American Legion. I was fortunate and honored to be able to attend the dedication with other members of Jean's family and interested citizens. Passers-by now know that Minonk is the home of the seven Petri brothers of World War II. My salute and thanks to all of them.

This column is a research project of Dr. Peter B. Riesz. Contact Riesz at pbriesz@suddenlink.net or 361-575-4600.

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