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Second Memorial Commemorating
the Skylighters Dedicated!

Where? — Fort Sheridan, Illinois
When? — Saturday, November 15, 2003, 3:00 p.m. CST


View Photos: The Memorial | The Dedication Ceremony


   A memorial to the Skylighters was dedicated on Saturday, November 15, 2003, at 3:00 p.m. CST, on the grounds of Fort Sheridan, Highland Park, Illinois, 61 years to the day following the battalion's activation there on November 15, 1942. Former members of the battalion from across America were honored during the dedication ceremony, and an informal reception followed at the Midwest Young Artists center, the previous historic post jail, across from the site.

Dedication Ceremony Program

First Call & Assembly (by Bugler)
Opening CeremonyColonel William D.R. Waff, Chief of Staff, USAR, 88th Regional Readiness Command
Attention for Parade of Colors (by Bugler and Color Guard)
National Anthem (by Bugler accompanied by Attendees
Posting of Colors
InvocationCaptain George Cooper, Chaplain, U.S. Navy – Midwest Region
Welcoming Remarks, Acknowledgement of Honored GuestsCaptain James Fitzgerald, USNR (Ret.)
History & Mission of the 225th AAA S/L Battalion — "The Skylighters"Frank Dorsey, President, 225th AAA S/L Bn Veterans Association
A Salute to the "Greatest Generation"Col. Waff
Recognition of Each Battalion Member & Family in Attendance (pinning of special decoration; each person forms part of a ring around the memorial); the following have confirmed as of Nov. 4:
  • PFC Carmen Allessio, B Battery, w/ wife and son
  • PFC Harold Asman, B Battery, w/ wife Cora Lee and children
  • PFC John Ayala, C Battery, w/ wife Juanita and friend
  • T-4 Bernard Broadbent, C Battery, w/ wife
  • T-5 Frank Dorsey, A Battery, w/ wife Kay
  • T-5 Andrew Frediani (deceased), B Battery; wife and daughter attending
  • T-5 Robert King, HQ Battery
  • SGT. Verne Kjell, A Battery, w/ wife
  • T-5 William Longobardi, A Battery, w/ wife Rosemary
  • PFC Morris Lubeznik, A Battery, w/ wife Florenza and son
  • T-5 Wayne Nelson, B Battery, w/ wife Ruth and son
  • T-5 Jesse Roderick, C Battery, w/ daughter and son-in-law
  • T-4 William Spinnenweber, C Battery, w/ wife and children
Capt. Fitzgerald
Dedication of Memorial (removal of covering and reading of inscription)Col. Waff
Laying of the WreathFrank Dorsey
Sounding of Taps (in memory of all American military "gone before")       listen now!Bugler
Retiring of the Colors/Singing of The Army Song       listen now!Col. Waff
Closing Remarks/Invitation to Reception at MYA Center (just west of memorial)Capt. Fitzgerald



The general locator map shows Fort Sheridan's location relative to Chicago.



Why Fort Sheridan?
   Fort Sheridan was where the battalion was formed and received basic training. The following extract from the official unit history describes this period:

   Originally designated the 3rd Battalion of the 510th Coast Artillery (CA) Regiment, upon activation at Ft. Sheridan the battalion was furnished with a cadre from the 506th Coast Artillery Regiment, and a few weeks later its first fillers were received from personnel inducted at the fort. The period from 15 November 1942 to 20 January 1943 was spent largely in the training of cadre and the formation of the instruction teams among the battalion's officers and noncommissioned officers, which were to conduct basic training when the battalion's fillers were received. On 20 January 1943, the unit was redesignated the 225th Coast Artillery Searchlight Battalion (Anti Aircraft). On 23 and 24 January, the battalion received a large number of fillers, bringing it almost up to its official ("Table of Organization") strength. The fillers were drawn about equally from New York and from the area of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, one group coming from Camp Upton, New York, and the other from Fort Knox, Kentucky.

   With the arrival of its fillers, the battalion began an intensive schedule of basic training. The training in basic subjects proceeded efficiently and with gratifying results, but during the entire period of the unit's stay at Ft. Sheridan, the problem of satisfactory training in the use of its basic weapon was unsolved, due to the inability to obtain sufficient night target missions. Unfavorable weather conditions, combined with smoke and fog — common to the Chicago area — grounded target planes night after night, and it was only on extremely rare occasions that the unit had an opportunity to practice tracking.

   The unit's strength had been depleted by frequent calls for fillers for overseas shipment and by other causes during February and March 1943, and on April 11, 124 enlisted men who had already received basic training at Camp Callan, California were assigned to the battalion. The lack of sufficient night tracking missions caused the battalion to be set back to its ninth week of MTP on 19 April 1943 and, again, on 17 May 1943, the battalion was set back to its ninth week for the same cause. While this difficulty delayed training on the battalion's basic weapon, the unit took advantage of the additional time for training to reach a remarkable state of efficiency in other departments. After a thorough course in army fundamentals during the first weeks of its training, the men and officers of the battalion began to take their more or less permanent positions in the unit. Radar crews trained continuously, mastering the intricacies of the SCR-268, which had only recently supplanted the sound locator as the standard searchlight detector. Heavy stress was laid on the problem of living under field conditions, and, during the months of April and May, batteries rotated continually in occupying bivouacs. Due to the fact that the battalion was semimobile, it was necessary to make these bivouac movements by means of shuttling, and these frequent moves gave the unit invaluable convoy experience. (The period postcards below capture some of the 225th's experiences during this phase of their training at Fort Sheridan.)


Postcard depicting AAA training on 3-inch antiaircraft guns.


Postcard showing AAA men training on .50-cal AA machine guns at Sheridan,
one of the weapons employed by the 225th.



Postcard view of 800-million-candlepower searchlight at Ft. Sheridan; this
type of searchlight was the primary "weapon" of the Skylighters.



   On 2 June 1943, with basic training completed, the battalion left Ft. Sheridan by train for its new station, Camp Davis, North Carolina.


The Memorial

Capt. Jim Fitzgerald, USNR, the Skylighters "man on the ground" in Illinois, poses
next to the memorial shortly after being placed on the base.



Closeup of the memorial.


Another closeup, this time of the inscription, which reads as below.

DEDICATED TO THE 827 MEN
OF 225th AAA SEARCHLIGHT BATTALION

255th TRAINED FT. SHERIDAN 1942/43
ARRIVED ENGLAND DEC. 43. BECAME PART
OF DEFENSE OF ENGLAND. LANDED OMAHA
JUNE 11-17. WAS PART OF DEFENSE OF
NORMANDY. MADE CONTACT 76 ENEMY
PLANES. SUPPLIED EARLY RADAR WARNING
AT BREAKOUT OF ST. LO. WERE ATTACHED
422 & 425 P61 NIGHTFIGHTERS 9th AF.
PUT UP 2,000 LIGHT CANOPIES/DIRECTIONAL
BEAMS, SAVING 4,000 PLANES AND CREWS.
OPERATED 3 COUNTRIES AT ONE TIME.
CREDITED WITH 36 PLANES/V1 ROCKETS.
WAR'S END WERE DEEP IN GERMANY.
TRAINED FOR PACIFIC, AUGUST 45/ARMY
OF OCCUPATION. DEPARTED EUROPE
DEC. 1945.


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