SPRINGFIELD – Sections of two Illinois highways will be renamed for fallen Macoupin County soldiers under legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar and approved by the General Assembly this spring. Senate Joint Resolution 9 designates Illinois Route 159 between Detour Road and Illinois Route 16 in Bunker Hill as “Lance Cpl. Charles Heinemeier Memorial Highway” and House Joint Resolution 21 renames part of Illinois Route 16 in Shipman “Sgt. Glenard Jay Gregory Memorial Road.”
Heinemeier enlisted in the U.S. Marines in May of 1968 and attended his basic training in California. Six months later, he was sent to Vietnam. The Bunker Hill native was killed in action on August 19, 1969 while serving with the 1st Marine Division in Quang Nam, Vietnam. Heinemeier was remembered by his fellow soldiers as having a positive attitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
“Your son was our morale booster,” Heinemeier’s commanding office wrote to his mother after his death. “We wouldn’t have made it through without him.”
Heinemeier was posthumously awarded three Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.
“Cpl. Heinemeier is an example to us all with his positive attitude and his commitment to serving our country,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “It’s only appropriate that we honor him and the sacrifice he made on our behalf.”
Manar also sponsored House Joint Resolution 21, which renames part of Illinois Route 16 in Shipman “Sgt. Glenard Jay Gregory Memorial Road.”
Gregory started his tour of Vietnam in May of 1968 and was injured in combat on April 19, 1969. He passed away from his wounds a day later at the age of 20, just days before he was scheduled to return home. He was awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Purple Hear Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Expert Sharpshooter Medal and the Bronze Star.
“Sgt. Gregory was a hero, and his tragic death is a story that was all too familiar during the Vietnam War,” Manar said. “It’s our responsibility to keep his memory alive and remind others of the sacrifice he made in service to his country.”
Gregory is buried in Shipman Cemetery and is honored on Panel 26w, Line 15 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Manar said that constituents including area veterans, relatives, and friends of both Heinemeier and Gregory approached him with the idea of designating the roads. The resolutions direct the Illinois Department of Transportation to erect signage to appropriately designate both routes as directed by the General Assembly.