By PAULETTE RUSK Citizen Correspondent CALUMET Twp.
— In true armed forces spirit 10 members of the Black Oak Jaycees completed their 50 mile trek through the area to raise money for Prisoners of War. The men, all veterans, left the Black Oak Library at 6:12 p.m. and returned together at 1:33 a.m. the following day. Co-chairman of the project, Jim Chancellor estimated that the march would take 20 hours, if they walked at two and one-half miles per hour. They finished about one-half earlier than planned. “Along the way we marched, not only walked, sang songs and counted cadence,” Chancellor related. The six Army and four Marine veterans all wore fatigue jackets, arm bands on their right arms, jungle hats and an American flag somewhere on their outfits.
A goal of $1,000 was set by the group to send to POW headquarters in New York. Chancellor said that he is not sure of the final total of money pledged, but that ‘they have over $900. “Many unseen faces were a tremendous help in the march,” Chancellor remarked. “Of these were Mrs. Gary Kemper, Mrs. Sherry Dillon, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Chancellor and Miss Candy Elliott, who brought us food and drinks along the way.” He particularly noted Mrs. Elliott who stayed with the group the final 15 miles, through the nighttime portion of the march.
“They offered us water, foot powder, sandwiches and most of all, encouragement,” he said.
“The first 40 miles were rough, but the last 10 were really bad,” he added. Despite this, the men sang and “marched tall” through the Black Oak community on their return to the library, according to Chancellor. “The last couple of blocks were the best of any in the march,” he commented. “People were coming out of their houses to meet us. They were as proud as the men who marched.” Other JCs and Mrs. JCs met the group at the library. Chancellor related that joy and happiness outweighed the
fatigue. Chancellor noted a couple incidents that happened while the marchers were on their trip. “Several people thought we were anti-war demonstrators and expressed their opposition to us,” he said. “It was then that we decided to make signs to identify exactly what we were doing.” “At the corner of Ridge Road and Cline Avenue in Griffith the vice president of the Portage JCs heard our songs and saw us as we marched across,” he told. “He stopped and talked to us and offered us all a beer.” He also noted Pete Sefcik, an E-4 Marine, for leading the march and keeping the morale high. “He, with his leadership, was the strong point of our effort,” Chancellor stated.
The 10 marchers experienced the typical blisters and muscle cramps of such a march. One in particular, Jim Rice, could hardly walk towards the end of the march because his feet were swollen so badly, Chancellor related. “He made it on sheer courage,” he commented. Chancellor added that the march was a very worthwhile project for all involved. Those who marched were Chancellor, John Dillon, co-chairman; Sefcik, Rice, Larry Barker, Bob Holmes, Tom Jones, Rod Wilson, Jimmy Dillon and Gary Kemper.