White Smith HaineWOOD RIVER, Ill. – Lonnie Smith was honorably discharged from the Marines when he was 23 years old. Like any other veteran, there was lots of paperwork.

Somewhere, somehow something got lost in the shuffle and Lonnie never received three awards he earned during his service in the Pacific theater in World War II.

Lonnie Smith went on to work as a welder. He married Fern Smith and they had a son.

Lonnie died April 2013 at the age of 90, having never received his medals.

On Thursday, state Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) presented Fern with her husband’s three missing medals during a ceremony at the Fox Grove Supportive Living Community.

"We have a humble duty to remember the veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country. Sadly, we couldn't give these to Lonnie while he was alive, but I hope that they can be a comfort to Fern and remind us of our obligation to every veteran," Haine said.

“I didn't know what to expect. I’m thrilled – this was unbelievable,” Fern said

The process of getting the medals began when Fern talked to Fred Smith, a family friend, about Lonnie's medals. Fred is a member of the Illinois Patriot Guard – a group of motorcycle riders who support the families of fallen veterans and first responders through honor missions and by shielding funeral services from unwanted protesters.

“Lonnie was a tough old boy and his wife is a sweetheart. I want his family to have something to remember – what we do is all about the families. If what we do gives them a memory to hold onto we’ve done our job,” Fred said.

Fred turned to Haine’s office for help. During the presentation, Haine praised the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs for getting Lonnie's military records released.

“All the men and women who have served: Let’s not forget them and their service to our nation," Earl White Southern Division Field Supervisor for the department said. White, Veterans’ Service Officer Ed Barnes and Field Services Manager Harry Sawyer procured the medals.

During the event White also presented Fern with an Illinois State Flag.

Haine had the honor of presenting Fern with The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, China Service Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal that her husband earned serving our country.

The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is awarded to Marines who land on foreign territory, engage in operations against armed opposition or operate under circumstances that earn special recognition and when no other campaign medal has been awarded. This medal was first issued in 1919 and is still awarded today.

The China Service Medal was awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who served in China or its territorial waters in either the lead up or aftermath of World War II.

The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal was awarded to members of the armed forces who served in the Pacific theater of World War II.

Category: News Releases

091114 js 0037SPRINGFIELD— Last month’s police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., sparked national debate over police procedures and practices. In Illinois, Brown’s death has renewed an effort to expand the use of vehicle-mounted and officer-worn cameras.

Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and Representative Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) announced, during a press conference Thursday, their commitment to pass a plan this fall that will increase funding for police departments to buy more cameras.

“Every day, the courageous men and women of Illinois law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect us. Cameras like these help prosecute crimes, protect civil liberties and – ultimately – help save officers’ lives,” Haine said.

The plan, House Bill 3911, brings more money to an existing grant program enabling local police departments to purchase cameras. It also secures additional funds for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Boards.

“I hope that the tragic recent events in Ferguson, which has brought the value of officer and vehicle-mounted cameras to national attention, may serve as a catalyst to enact legislation that protects our brave police officers as much as it does the general public,” Gordon-Booth said.

“The use of cameras serves as a layer of transparency to document disputed encounters between law enforcement and citizens,” NAACP Illinois State Conference President George Mitchell said.

The proposal increases an existing court fee by $6 to fund the camera grant program and increase funding for ILETSB. The $6 fee is estimated to bring in between $4 million and $6 million per year.

“We live in a visual society. These types of videos will be invaluable,” Illinois State’s Attorneys Association President Brian Towne said.

Lawmakers return to Springfield in November for the annual fall session. Gordon-Booth and Haine plan to call HB 3911 then.

Category: News Releases

ADA LogoRCHICAGO – State officials trying to protect disabled people from abuse now have added legal protection themselves thanks to a new law signed Monday by the governor.

The law – sponsored by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) – protects the Illinois Department on Aging from being sued for enforcing the Adult Protective Services Act, which was approved last year.

“Last year we passed sweeping protections for this at-risk population. This is a continuing effort to fine tune a new program and ensure the best protections,” Haine said.

Read more ...

Category: News Releases

052714CM0393SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) introduced a resolution Wednesday urging the U.S. Department of Commerce and President Obama to investigate unfair South Korean trade practices.

There have been recent reports of low-quality, Korean-made steel being dumped into the U.S. market. These goods are being brought into the U.S. through deceptive trade practices and are being sold far below the fair market price.

“This cheap, low-quality steel is hurting the American economy and the federal government shouldn’t sit by while this happens. The Granite City steel works employs skilled workers who could face losing their jobs it their first-rate product continues to be undercut by shoddy foreign steel,” Haine said.

Senate Resolution 1243 urges the Department of Commerce to investigate South Korean companies' trade practices and protect the value of American-made steel.

When it is adopted by the Senate a copy of the resolution will be sent to President Obama.

Category: News Releases

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