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Arlington Heights Honors Soldiers: Memorial Day Wreaths, Fallen Heroes

Tue May 31 2011 7:34 am
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Laying of wreaths at Memorial Park in Arlington Heights Memorial Day, May 30, 2011.

After the annual Memorial Day Parade, hundreds of Arlington Heights residents honored veterans at Memorial Park at Fremont and Chestnut.

As the nation observed Memorial Day May 30, 2011, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) honored the service of two World War II military veterans from Arlington Heights during the “Fallen Heroes” tribute at Memorial Park.

‘Art’ Nicholson receives Purple Heart and Bronze Star from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

U.S. Army Sgt. Aristo Nicholson … U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk gave Art Nicholson the Bronze Star for valor in combat and the Purple Heart for receiving five gunshot wounds in the line of duty in France in 1944.

Nicholson, who enlisted in the Army as World War II began, was attached to the 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division under General George Patton’s Third Army. As a squad leader, he led an assault on a German pillbox, which allowed other members of his unit to flank the pillbox and successfully capture five German Waffen-SS soldiers. During an ensuing engagement with the German SS, Nicholson was shot four times, and waited nearly three days before being rescued by Army medics.

Nicholson’s family members worked to discover records lost in a fire, and finally received official recognition for his service in France in 1944 on May 30, 2011.

Illinois National Guard Private Nick J. Marchese … U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk also gave Illinois National Guard Private Nick J. Marchese the Purple Heart posthumously. His niece, Kathleen Marchese, who lobbied for the medal, was at Memorial Park to received the award from Senator Kirk.

Kathleen Marchese receives Purple Heart for her uncle Nick J. Marchese from U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

Marchese enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 1941, and was attached to the B Company, 192d Tank Battalion, which was the last American unit to enter the Bataan Peninsula and engage with the Japanese. The battle would become the first American tank battle of World War II.

Marchese’s unit had few supplies, no air cover, and no reinforcements until they were given the order to surrender on April 9, 1942. As a prisoner of war, Marchese eventually succumbed to dysentery and passed away on Aug. 1, 1942, at the age of 24.

The Department of Defense recently expanded the criteria for eligibility for the Purple Heart to include Prisoners of War who died in captivity, permitting Marchese to receive his Purple Heart posthumously.

Check back Tuesday afternoon for more reports and videos from Memorial Day.

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