Robert r. Ryder photo Belvidere Republican
Walter Petroske waves from his family’s van as dozens of cars drive by during his “car parade” to honor the World War II veteran’s 100th birthday. He was the inspiration for the nonprofit organization ‘Sgt. P’s Lapghans for Veterans.’

By Robert Ryder


The cars were lined up for almost a half mile as dozens came out to Poplar Grove Wednesday, Feb. 10, to celebrate the 100th birthday of World War II Army veteran Walther Petroske. The “birthday parade” was a joint effort involving several local organizations and individuals who worked together to celebrate the World War II veteran’s birthday.

Sgt. Petroske served as a demolitions specialist and took part in some of the most important battles near the end of the fighting against Nazi Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge, the Bridge at Remagen and the invasion of the Rhineland area of Germany.

“This is more than we could have ever hoped for,” proclaimed Charlotte Kennedy, Petroske’s daughter and one of the main organizers of the parade. “To see so many people come out on such a cold day to say happy birthday to my dad is really wonderful. I know he really appreciates it and is enjoying every minute of it.”

For COVID-19 concerns Petroske remained in a family van with the window down and the heat on to lessen the chances of infection. That didn’t stop him from showing how much he appreciated all the efforts with a wide smile and continuously waving to the passing cars.

“This is just great to see so many people taking part today,” said Robert Ryder, superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Boone County. “It really shows how much the Boone County residents care about our veterans and want to honor them in all ways possible.”

The North Boone High School Band, Vets Roll, Brave Hearts and the VFW Post 162 of Belvidere and the American Legion Post 77 of Belvidere and their Honor Guards were just some of the many organizations who took part in the salute to Sgt. Petroske. 

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