World War II Hero Celebrates 99th in Kankakee: Illinois Parade Recalls Christmas Eve Sacrifices

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KANKAKEE, IL – The streets of Kankakee echoed with gratitude as a vibrant parade, led by Kankakee Firefighters Local 653, marked the 99th birthday of a local hero, Richard Guimond, on Thursday.

Born in Bourbonnais in 1924, Guimond’s life paints a picture of bravery, resilience, and an undying spirit. As a young graduate from Kankakee’s St. Patrick High School, he didn’t wait for WWII to come to him – he enlisted in 1942. His valor during the war’s intense battles, from the landings at Anzio to the liberation of France and the fierce race across Germany, highlighted his commitment to freedom.

One poignant chapter from his service was during Christmas in 1944. Amidst a fierce fight against Nazi SS troops, Guimond suffered injuries from a grenade blast in a heart-wrenching house-to-house battle. For his bravery and sacrifices, he was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, a badge of honor recognizing his wartime injuries.

But his journey didn’t stop at the war. After WWII, Guimond continued his legacy of service as Kankakee’s assistant fire chief. His leadership, both on the battlefield and in the community, has been an inspiration to many. The recent parade wasn’t just a festivity; it was Kankakee’s way of saying ‘thank you’. 

The community came together to present Guimond with a heartfelt card and a gift basket, it’s evident Guimond’s story of courage, from the treacherous terrains of WWII to the heart of Kankakee, will be cherished for generations to come.

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