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‘The Veteran’s Veteran’: Herschel Luckinbill remembered for service to fellow vets, community

Veterans and Kendall County community leaders alike are remembering and honoring local veteran Herschel Luckinbill.

Luckinbill, 75, died at his Charlotte, TN home on Wednesday, July 28, according to an obituary posted through Spann Funeral Home & Cremation Services. He is survived by his wife, Eva, sons, grandchildren, great-grandchild and several family members.

Luckinbill was born Aug. 2, 1945, in Ardmore, Oklahoma. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. He served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War aboard the USS O’Brien. The USS O’Brien was the first American ship to receive direct hits from the enemy during the Vietnam War on Dec. 23, 1966.

A long-time Montgomery resident, Luckinbill embraced the work of the VFW, serving 25 times as a guardian for World War II veterans participating in Honor Flight Chicago. As an ambassador and fundraiser for the program, Luckinbill raised more than $100,000 in donations for honor flights.

Luckinbill was “instrumental in locating World War II veterans for the first honor flights that continued for years to follow…Honor Flight Chicago would not be where it is today without the groundwork assistance from Herschel,” according to a post to the Honor Flight Chicago Facebook.

Luckinbill also served as the leader of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club, nurturing and motivating more than 65 area veterans to meet every other week for breakfast and to stay active and engaged in the community.

In 2013, Luckinbill brought the Vietnam Moving Wall to Aurora where more than 200,000 visited the site. He was honored for his work by State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, and selected by the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs to serve as “Veteran of the Month” for the state.

Luckinbill brought the Vietnam Moving Wall to Oswego in June, 2017 where with the support of more than 700 volunteers, 175,000 visitors learned about the Vietnam Wall and observed the names of those who died. Luckinbill served on the committee for the creation of the Veterans Serenity Park near downtown Oswego, and was instrumental in bringing the Mid-East Conflict Wall to the village earlier this year, but was unable to travel to see the wall in person due to his health.

‘Anchors Aweigh’

In the days following Luckinbill’s death, veterans organizations and leaders in Illinois have responded, celebrating his work in the community.

A statement posted to the Veterans Serenity Park Facebook page said that Luckinbill, “worked tirelessly for decades as an advocate for all veterans. Herschel served on the committee that built our park and was instrumental in its success. Anchors aweigh, Herschel. God speed.”

In a post to her personal Facebook page July 30, State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, echoed Luckinbill’s nickname of “The Veteran’s Veteran,” adding that he “did so many great things for so many people and for veterans.”

Montgomery Village Trustee Steve Jungermann praised Luckinbill as an “involved resident” and as a “fierce advocate for veterans” in a July 30 post to his Facebook page.

“I knew when he told me that I was doing a good job as a newly elected official that he meant it,” Jungermann wrote. “I could always get straight, direct answers from Herschel and I always appreciated it.”

A visitation for Luckinbill will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 2, at Spann Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Dickson, Tennessee. He will be laid to rest Aug. 3 in the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. Flowers and memorial gifts may be sent to the family through the Spann Funeral Home & Cremation Services website.

FILE PHOTO: Herschel Luckinbill (right), a Montgomery resident and president of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club, accepts an Illinois Bicentennial Flag from Village President Matt Brolley during a village board meeting Jan. 14, 2019. Luckinbill was recognized by the village board for being selected by Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial Office as a "Honor 200" award recipient. Brolley said Luckinbill was recognized by the state agencies for his extraordinary contributions to assist area veterans and veterans organizations. Luckinbill is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam war.

FILE PHOTO: Herschel Luckinbill (right), a Montgomery resident and president of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club, accepts an Illinois Bicentennial Flag from Village President Matt Brolley during a village board meeting Jan. 14, 2019. Luckinbill was recognized by the village board for being selected by Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial Office as a “Honor 200” award recipient. Brolley said Luckinbill was recognized by the state agencies for his extraordinary contributions to assist area veterans and veterans organizations. Luckinbill is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam war.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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