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and the family who created it in the Depression
In the years between the two world wars, the rural intersection of Illinois Hwy. 23 and U.S. 30 was a crossroads, not only for transportation but also for major historic trends:
Against this backdrop, the Eakle family deftly navigated
triumphs and tragedies, large and small. In his heartwarming
autobiography, John Eakle tells how his closeknit family weathered
hardships yet had fun performing across the country and Canada as the
Eakle Family Band and Dance Troupe. And what did they travel on? The
family’s home-away-from-home — a 41-foot-long “battleship” parade float
dubbed the USS Illinois built in an airplane hangar.
Author John Eakle
A school teacher more than 30 years, John carefully researched the facts and taped interviews with family and friends to preserve this history. He completed the book shortly before he died May 16, 1998.
He entered the Army Air Corps in October 1942. Between July 1944 and June 1945, he flew 108 combat missions over Burma in P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. There he earned an air medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1983 he retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a Lt. Col. After returning from the war, John married Mary Weishaar in 1946. In 1949 they settled down to raise a family when daughter Terry Jo was born.
John attended and graduated from Northern Illinois University (formerly State Teachers College) with a BS and MS in Education. He taught more than 30 years, 28 years in DeKalb, IL, junior and senior school special education. He retired in 1981.
Active in the community as well as aviation, John served two terms as president of the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association, held a commercial pilot’s license, taught private pilot ground school, and flew in the Civil Air Patrol. He was also a member of the First United Methodist Church, DeKalb, IL; the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Retired Officers Association, World War II Combat Flyers and the Kishwaukee-DeKalb Kiwanis Club.