Aerial combat memorial coming to Stephenson County

Local News

LENA, Ill. (WTVO) — The stateline will soon have another landmark.

An Aerial Combat Memorial will soon call Stephenson County home. After years of planning, supporters are excited to see the project take off.

Project leaders said much of the work so far has been done behind the scenes, but they are now ready to show donors and other contributors signs of progress.

“This is a day we’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time, and it’s finally here and kind of surreal, in a way, that it’s actually, there’s a hole out there,” said Terry Yount, President of the NW IL F-4 Jet Memorial Project.

The military monument years in the making moved closer to reality Monday morning in Lena, as a local contractor started excavation at the future home of the Northwest Illinois Aerial Combat Memorial.

“It’s been extremely well-received, and I think Lena is going to be proud of it,” Yount said.

Yount said concrete will be poured at the site later this week, which will set the stage for construction of a pylon to hold the F-4 Phantom Jet.

“It’s very close to the hearts of the people that are doing it, because many of them have first-hand experience with the aircraft,” Yount said.

The jet still needs to be repainted before it is transported and mounted, according to Yount, but he is optimistic all of that could happen by next summer.

“It’s gonna be, not only to Lena and the members of the committee, but to a lot of older individuals who were in the service when the jet was active, they’re going to have a great appreciation, love for the aircraft,” Yount said.

The hops is the memorial will eventually draw veterans and other tourists to Lena.

“Once the word gets out, there’s old war birds out there that will look it up. It will be an attraction, you won’t need to send out invitations,” Yount said.

Yount said Monday’s excavation work was done free of charge by Oppold Backhoe Service as an in-kind donation to the memorial project.

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