Wheaton's fallen native sons
Army Spc. Samuel Watts is the fifth member of the armed services from Wheaton to die since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The memory of Watts -- and all of Wheaton's fallen native sons -- will be on the minds of attendees of the city's Memorial Day parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Monday at Hale and Wesley, and proceeds to Wheaton Cemetery for a ceremony at 11 a.m.
Wheaton City Councilman Tom Mouhelis, a member of Wheaton VFW Post 2164 and an Air Force veteran who spent 30 years in the service, said it's important to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
"They feel an obligation to give back to their country that gives them freedom," he said.
The other Wheaton natives who have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are:
• Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin E. Oratowski, 23, who was killed Aug. 18, 2010, by a roadside bomb in the Helmand province of Afghanistan during his first combat deployment. He was a 2005 graduate of Glenbard South High School.
• Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, 24, who was killed during a Jan. 25, 2008, battle with Taliban forces in Barikowt, Afghanistan. Miller, a Medal of Honor recipient, was a 2002 graduate of Wheaton North High School.
• Army Capt. Kevin C. Landeck, 26, who died in Iraq on Feb. 2, 2007, when the Humvee he was riding in south of Baghdad hit a roadside bomb. He graduated from Wheaton Warrenville South High School in 1999.
• Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Larson, 19, who was killed during the U.S. assault on Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 9, 2004. He was a 2003 graduate of Wheaton North.
Last month, the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans dedicated its second Wheaton facility at 111 N. West St. in honor of Miller. The original facility at 119 N. West St., which opened in 2007, was named in honor of Larson.