Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to our veterans. These brave men and women sacrificed and endured so much to ensure freedom and opportunity for future generations. No amount of thanks will ever be commensurate to what these veterans deserve. In honor of Veterans Day, I would like to remember and recognize a few special honored service men who continued serving after a war as public servants, as assessors.
The first veteran I would like to recognize is my grandfather, Homer N. Offutt. In October of 1944, Homer sailed for France from Boston Harbor to serve in World War II. Homer was a part of Co. I of the 354th Infantry Regiment, Army. After returning from war, Homer served as the Aurora Township Assessor.
Homer’s legacy of service continued through his son, Davis R. Offutt. Davis, my father, is the second veteran I would like to recognize.
Following his father’s footsteps, Davis proudly served our nation in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. After the war, he went on to become the Aurora Township Assessor. Like his father, Davis is actively involved in the Illinois assessment community, including attending IPAI classes. The first time Davis attended an IPAI class that I was instructing, there was another veteran in attendance. His name was John Barrington.
John was the Ela Township Assessor and the third serviceman I want to recognize. Before becoming the Ela Township Assessor, John served as a U.S. Navy Corpsman alongside the Marine Corps. John also spent time in Okinawa and was in multiple tours in Iraq. John’s wife, Bonnie Barrington, is a veteran as well. John was heavily involved in many assessment organizations. He was the president of the Lake County Assessors Association, an executive board member of the Illinois Chapter of IAAO, and was involved with Township Officials of Illinois.
What many came to realize (much too late) about John was how he struggled with PTSD. Unfortunately, John lost his battle with PTSD in September of 2021. But John was not alone in his struggles. Many honored service members are diagnosed with PTSD after their tours. Learn more, here, about the statistics of PTSD in veterans.
The tragedy of all the veteran lives that have been lost due to PTSD is incomprehensible. This makes it incredibly important to acknowledge and remember those that are with us today, as well as the men and women who have come and gone.
As an assessment community, we must take time to recognize and honor the veterans in our midst. Whether they are a co-worker or constituent, veterans deserve our thanks, respect, and support. Their service to our nation enables us to be free and have the opportunity to serve the public in our roles as assessment officials. On Veterans Day and every day, thank you veterans for all you have given to our nation.
If you would like to read excerpts of firsthand accounts of WWII (Homer) and Vietnam (Davis), learn more below.
Chesney M. Leafblad, CIAO-M
Chief Deputy Assessor, Warren Township
IPAI Education Committee Chairwoman
"In a short time almost every man in the outfit became hardened and part of a powerful fighting unit. We smashed forward across the Mosel River and on up to the Rhine. Our Rhine crossing was one of the bloodiest in the entire army. It took two days and cost us almost 800 men, a third of the regiment.
Dirty, filthy infantrymen doing their jobs-
I arrived home on June 18, 1946. The long dream of getting home didn’t prove to be such a wonderful thing as I had expected it to be. The most difficult thing I tried to do was to attempt to recapture the life I spent before I went into the army. I tried hard to find things as I had left them, but in the end, I found this impossible. I realize that army life has changed me a great deal. It seems as if I have grown old swiftly.
I believe that my feelings of today can best be explained in a poem that was written in part by another soldier, and in part by me.
Some of these days we’re all going back
Taking the train over that same old track
Back to the land from whence we came
To save it again from sorrow and shame
Our worries all over, our cares all done
Back to the land of the smiles and sun.
It seems quite evident that man other veterans are still looking for the 'smiles and sun.'"
27 Oct, 1968
Last night while “shooting the stuff” over some beers, I found out from one of the army sergeants that he works with a boy scout troop downtown. Of course, I went wild over this! It seems that he doesn’t know too much about the program and plays it by ear. So, he has invited me to help. I work on every other Sunday the way the shifts are set up so next Sunday I will attend their meetings. The big thing about this is that they do not have any guidelines to run this troop. So, I would like you to contact the scout office and give them my address so I can work through them instead of bothering you. I can give you a run down of what they would like and need.
This may seem unusual for a war zone but we do have civilians over here. Also, my free time is boring here. What I should do is try to explain what the situation is here, but I can’t write that much. I will give you an example. If the USA was like VN in this war. You as civilians would go about your jobs daily and at 8:00 PM the curfew would be in effect and you would be at home with possible mortar harassment once a week. The military would have to carry their weapons at all times because you don’t know where the VC are. In the field away from cities, It’s a “regular” war. No place in VN is safe, however, with certain precautions taken there is no sweat. It is hard to explain. I am enjoying myself, I always do!
17 Nov, 1968
Well, today the bad guys started acting up again. So, it looks like we will be working for a while. Do you ever read anything about Hoi An? Last night DaNang got twenty 122mm rockets.