The following are a majority of the veterans who currently work at Chicago Communications and who were kind enough to share their stories.
Owen Lauerman (Sales)
Owen (pictured right) served in the U.S. Marines from 1999-2004. He was stationed in too many places to name them all but ones that stand out to him are Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan, Camp Pendleton in California, and Alaska. Another significant point to make of his service was being in Iraq in 2003 where he was part of the first assault made on March 20th. He was an Acting Sgt. of 1st Mar Division, a .50 Cal gunner, who says his duties included not being shot. "I loved every minute of it, Would do it all over again if I had to," Owen says.
Joe Sopron (IT Director)
Rank SP4 U.S. Army. Joe served at the United States Military Academy, West Point NY from 1971-72. He enjoyed programming new computer systems installed on Base and he also liked the idea of serving his country with Duty and Honor.
Emory Ludtke III (Shop Supervisor)
Emory (pictured below) served in the U.S. Air Force for 4 active years and 4 years in reserve reaching a Sargent rank. He joined in 1985 the day he turned 17. Another who traveled all over the world, Emory spent the most time stationed at an air base in NY and at Mt. Vergine in Italy. His specialization was in wideband communications. He tied together the digital European backbone that composed secure voice and data communications. Emory thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Air Force and would do it all over again if he could.
Walter Paucar (Technician)
Walter served in the U.S. Marines from 2001-2006. He was stationed across the U.S., but his favorite places were when he was stationed in Japan and Korea. While a Marine, Walter studied artillery, he went to communication school for 2 years and learned about telecommunications. These skills served Walter well when he was a civilian by becoming a technician at Chicago Communications. For Walter, "the best part of the marine corp was seeing the world."
Ernie Chisholm (Technician)
Ernie was a member of the USAF actively serving from Oct 1983 to Dec 1993. His title was a Ground Radio Maintenance Technician. Over the decade he served he was stationed in: Hanscom, MA (1984 to 1985); Camp Red Cloud, Korea (1986 to 1987); Barksdale, LA (1988 to 1989); Karatas Radio Relay Site, Turkey (1990) & Homestead, FL (1991 to 1993).
Highlights of his time served include being deployed to and serving in the AOR and Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield/ Desert Storm, earning 13 Medals and Awards including Air Force Commendation Medal and a couple of Air Force Achievement Medals. He Actually met his ex-wife in the gold market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia before the war broke out. He was one of the last to leave base before Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in Aug 1992 and one of the first back on base to establish initial communications to the headquarters. A picture of him raising an American flag on a mobile antenna mast right after the hurricane was on the front page of Stars and Stripes.
Dennis Ondriska (Engineering)
Dennis was in the US Naval Air from 1972-1978 as an Aviation Electronics Tech. He was stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Millington in Tennessee, NAS Bermuda and at home base NAS Glenview. As an aviation electronics tech he was tasked with the repair of radios, navigation and related electronics on board P3 Orion ASW aircraft (pictured right) and A4 Skyhawk fighter jets.
Dennis says the "Best part for me was being able to work on an aircraft, since at the time, I was also in private pilot training and was always interested in aircraft and the airfield environment. My other best part, was receiving my 'Honorable Discharge' in 1978."
Fred Budge (Technician)
Fred was drafted into the army in 1970 during the Vietnam war. He successfully served for 2 years as a basic infantry soldier until his honorable discharge. He was thankful to come back in one piece.
Warren Bastiani (Technician)
Warren was 20 years old when he voluntarily enlisted in the Army. He served from 1970-1971. He was stationed in Texas, Indiana, Korea and New Jersey. Warren was a Missile Operator while in the Army and he's glad he never had to use what he'd been trained on.
Bob Hermanson (Technician)
Bob was a member of the U.S. Navy actively serving from 1972-1976 and on inactive duty until 1978. He was stationed on the USS Ranger and the USS Forrestal. The USS Forrestal was a supercarrier (the largest type of aircraft carrier) named after the first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. Bob worked on aircraft maintenance and test equipment. Bob's tours took him to the Pacific Ocean where he spent time in port in Australia, Hong Kong and the Philippines. He was also deployed in the Mediterranean, where he got to spend time in Spain and Italy. Bob left the Navy with the rank of Petty Officer Third Class.
Thanks again to all of the veterans here for sharing their stories and for dedicating their time to serve the USA.