DECATUR – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named Decatur resident and World War II Veteran Rudy Escobar as the State of Illinois’ April, 2009 “Veteran of the Month” for his undivided dedication to the state’s military heroes and his local community.
The “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given monthly to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. IDVA Director Dan Grant presented Escobar with the prestigious award this afternoon during a special ceremony at the American Legion Post 105 in Decatur.
“Rudy Escobar is an exceptional Illinois Veteran, who continues to put the needs of the community above himself. He defended America’s freedom during World War II, and he continues, even to this day, to serve his fellow comrades and the members of his community. I am extremely proud that today we honor and thank Rudy for his service by presenting him with the State of Illinois’ April ‘Veteran of the Month’ award,” said IDVA Director Dan Grant.
Escobar proudly and honorably served in the United States Marine Corps from 1945-1949. He spent eighteen months in China Burma India Theater during World War II and was instrumental in liberating Tsntsin, China where he transported 500 Japanese prisoners. Escobar participated in holding off an attack by Chinese forces under Mao Tse-tung in 1946 at Shiso, China. For his dedicated service, Escobar was awarded the Marine Corps Medal for Heroism, Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct, China Service Medal with Bronze Star, China War Memorial with Starburst, Asia-Pacific Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Marine Corps Occupation Ribbon, American Defense Ribbon, and two Presidential Citation Medals.
After returning home from military service, Escobar played minor league professional baseball with farm teams of the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Braves. He shares the all time record for the most stolen bases (seven) in a single game with three other players.
Escobar wanted to do something to specially honor his fallen comrades. So in 1995, he brought together volunteers from existing American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Honor Guards as well as others from the Veteran community and formed the Macon County Honor Guard. With the help of his Vice Commander, Escobar garnered enough funding for uniforms and a donated van to get the Honor Guard started.
As Commander of the Macon County Honor Guard, Escobar insists that all members adhere to a policy that always places the dignity of the service and the needs of the family above all else. The Macon County Honor Guard is well-known throughout the community, active duty service personnel, and families of the deceased for its professionalism and exquisite execution.
Now the Macon County Honor Guard is a 34-man team that performs full military funeral services for Veterans all throughout the area. Since 1995, 1,803 military funerals have been performed by the Macon County Honor Guard, including 212 performed in 2007 and again in 2008.
Escobar volunteers countless hours with the honor guard, traveling several times a week to perform at burials of Veterans at cemeteries throughout the area. His work with the honor guard helps to ensure that no Veteran is ever forgotten or is laid to rest without proper honor.
Escobar currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Macon County Veterans Assistance Commission where he helps to make sure that Veterans know their rights, file disability compensation and pension claims through the VA, and get the benefits they are entitled to receive. He is also a Disabled American Veteran (DAV) Volunteer Van Driver and has been since its inception in 1996. From 2003-2004, Escobar served as the National Deputy Chief of Staff for the DAV Transportation Network. Escobar has made over 233 trips and traveled 41,940 miles for Veterans in need of assistance.
Escobar is also greatly involved in the youth and local community. He served as the Assistant to Assistant Scout Master at St Thomas Catholic Church and also volunteered to work with and mentor the troubled youth in the local courts program. Escobar has also volunteered his time to serve as an Election Judge in Macon County.
Escobar is a life time member of the VFW, American Legion, DAV, Marine Corps League, and the China-Marine Association.
Born on November 30, 1927, Escobar has lived in Decatur since 1964. He is married, a proud father of nine, grandfather of 18, and great-grandfather of 10.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at veterans.illinois.gov
or call IDVA at (312) 814-5538 to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.