At the height of World War II, a group of Elgin High School graduates bid farewell to their classmates and enlisted to fight overseas.
Many didn't make it out of the war or later succumbed to wounds suffered in battle.
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"We lost several members," said Al Mink, 88, of Elgin, who served two years with the Air Force during the war.
While most of the male members of Elgin High School's graduating class of 1944 went into the service, the female members joined a cadet nursing degree program, Mink said.
After the war, the surviving members of the 356-member graduating class have stayed in touch through reunions every five years.
"At our age that's pretty good," Mink said.
The Class of 1944 will celebrate its 70th reunion from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 at Hickory Stick Bar & Grille at the Highlands of Elgin Golf Course, 875 Sports Way, Elgin.
Seventy-year high school reunions are rare, but organizers have managed to keep the tradition alive. For the first seven years after graduation, Mink said he put out a 10-page class newsletter.
"That's basically why we kind of, in later years, hung in there," Mink said. "It's been a pretty good class. We're pretty well organized. I've been on every (reunion) committee since we began."
Mink said 87 class members attended the 65th reunion held at Elgin's Grand Victoria Casino. Many class members have passed on over the years -- roughly 70 members of the original graduating class are living.
"For a number of years, we gave plaques for the one that came the farthest, the one with the most kids, the one that was married the longest," Mink said.
Classmates are coming in from California, Florida, Texas, and Washington for the 70th reunion celebration.
"So far we've got 37 of our own class members and some of their spouses (attending)," Mink said. "We're inviting anyone from the Class of 1943 to join with us. So far, we've only been able to locate a few members."
Anyone interested in participating in the reunion can call Mink at (847) 741-7176.