Union County veteran named state Bicentennial Honor 200 honoree
A Union County veteran is receiving special recognition as part of the State of Illinois’ bicentennial celebration during 2018.
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Governor’s Office of the Illinois Bicentennial has announced that Oscar Harrison Sanders Jr. of Anna has been chosen as an Illinois Bicentennial Honor 200 honoree.
Sanders is a resident of the Illinois Veterans Home in Anna.
Retired brigadier general Stephen Curda, who is the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, congratulated Sanders when he notified the Union County resident of the honor in a letter.
The letter, which was shared by Sanders’ wife, Joyce, stated:
“Your time, energy, and contributions to your fellow veterans, service members, and local community, are recognized as going above and beyond the call of duty.
“As Illinois celebrates the Bicentennial of our Statehood, it is important to recognize our history, people, and communities. The State, as well as the Governor of Illinois, takes this time of celebration as an opportunity to showcase the value of community service, as demonstrated by our Illinois Veterans.
“The Honor 200 award nominations were evaluated on the achievements and the contributions made by each Honoree that have aided, benefited and provided inspiration in your local communities and your fellow veterans. Through your past experiences, both on and off the battlefield, you embodied these virtues to the greatest extent and exemplifies the meaning of selfless service, courage, and compassion.”
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Governor’s Office of the Illinois Bicentennial held a press conference on Oct. 24 at the Capitol Rotunda in Springfield to announce the honorees.
Honorees will receive their awards and recognition on Dec. 3, when an Illinois Bicentennial Celebration is scheduled at the United Center in Chicago.
Mrs. Sanders shared the following information about her husband’s service:
He was in the Naval Reserves while in high school, but transferred to the Air Force because he wanted to be around planes.
His first overseas station was at Orly Air Base in France. He was crew chief on a fire truck. When Orly closed, he went to Wheelus Air Base in Libya, North Africa. He was there during the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt and the Arab nations in 1967.
His next post was in Viet Nam at Tuy Hoa Air Base. His unit assisted when damaged planes landed; some were on fire and they had to lay down a blanket of chemicals to keep jet fuel from burning.
He also helped when the remains of American soldiers were brought to the base.
The base was attacked by the Viet Cong; because he was a sharpshooter, Mr. Sanders was stationed on the roof, defending the base from the invaders.
When he came home, Mr. Sanders became an Illinois State Police Trooper in March of 1969.
He was on the tollway until 1973, when he transferred to District 13 in Du Quoin because his mother was terminally ill.
He left the state police to work for Zeigler Coal Company. They were sinking a new mine and he loved learning new skills.
In 1989, the Sanderses moved to Anna and he went to work for the Union County Sheriff’s Office as a dispatcher, then as a road deputy. He also was a detective for the department.
He and Lee Roy Rendleman went to several towns and spoke about the need for a 911 system in the county. When the county started 911, he was chosen to be the coordinator.
Mr. Sanders was proud to serve his country, the State of Illinois and Union County.
He is an Illinois State Master Sharp Shooter, a member of NENA and a Clarion Software developer. He completed a North American Master Conservation Course and earned a bachelor in ministry from the Sure Foundation.