Given that this year is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Champaign County Historical Museum looks back at Champaign County involvement, beginning with Robert L. Eichelberger, who was born in Urbana and graduated from Urbana High School in 1903. A Nov. 29, 1941, photo (#A2459) at the museum shows Maj. Gen. Eichelberger, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, escorting Eleanor Roosevelt at the Army-Navy football game at West Point.
Eight days later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Subsequently, Eichelberger asked for his release to a combat assignment “so he could be useful to his country.” In August 1942, he was sent to Australia for a job that was to keep him in the Pacific theater for six years. His first assignment from Gen. Douglas MacArthur was to take a command and break the stalemate at Buna on the northwest coast of New Guinea, where demoralized allied forces had been attacking, through tangled jungle and swamp, impregnable Japanese defensive positions.
As a result of Eichelberger‘s leadership, the stalemate was broken, resulting in the first Allied Ground Force victory in the Pacific.
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Museum, a not-for-profit organization that depends upon donations and dues to preserve, protect, archive and display the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The free public museum, 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.