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Huck, Oquawka's Citizen Of The Year

"Huck" Lumbeck holds a sign given him after it was dismantled from a fire truck which paraded him through town as Oquawka's 2007 4th of July Grand Marshal. Helping Huck hold the sign is his wife Barbara and grandson, Max Edwards, a senior at Iowa Wesleyan majoring in law enforcement.

"Huck" Lumbeck, one of Oquawka's finest, was named "Oquawka's Citizen Of The Year" and "Grand Marshal" of this year's 4th of July parade.

As Huck rode on board one of the department's fire trucks July 4th, a huge sign hung across its front, which described some of Huck's life...." ." professional Dohrn truck driver", "65 years a firefighter and firetruck driver" "WWII US Marine Veteran," and "Family Man!"

Harold Lumbeck was born August 6, 1923 in Burlington, Iowa to his Oquawka parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. N. Lumbeck. His parents owned and operated "Lumbeck's Grocery."

After graduating from Oquawka High School, Huck and his buddy Clifford Davenport, enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corp. It was December 11, 1942, one year and four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Entering the service and going through boot camp as a teenager can be pretty rough, but Huck, like many others during World War II, quickly answered the call to serve and defend his country. He was sent to Oahu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor.

Huck had witnessed just a year earlier through news accounts, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It was a surprise attack on the United States naval base, launched on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 at 7:55 a.m.

[The attack was ordered by the Empire of Japan's Carrier Striking Task Force against the U.S. Pacific Fleet and other US armed forces stationed at the harbor and also on the other side of Oahu. The attack spurred the U.S. into entering World War II on the following day and officially started the Pacific War.

American casualties were 4600 dead and wounded. 188 aircraft were destroyed and 18 American ships were sunk or severely damaged. By contrast, Japan's losses were 64 dead, 1 captured, 29 aircraft, and 5 midget submarines.

When U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the American Congress, he called December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy."

The intent of the attack was to protect Japan's move into Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, executed to secure her access to natural resources (mainly oil), by preventing intervention by the U.S. Pacific Fleet (in the fashion predicted by war plans on both sides); the Japanese Navy high command was certain any attack on British colonies would inevitably bring the U.S. into the war. By contrast, President Roosevelt had moved the fleet to Hawaii to deter Japanese aggression against China, or European colonies in Asia.

- source Wilipedia, the free encyclopedia.]

Huck was assigned to Barber Point Naval Air Station on guard duty and drove a truck hauling guards back and forth to different gates. He was fortunate the devastating bombing of Pearl Harbor was over, but the recent bombing and uncertainty was ever present in everyone's minds.

Huck was kept busy bringing bombs in and out of storage igloos, but most of the fighting in the Pacific Theater was now in Guatalcanal, and further south.

"Compared to others, it was a cushy job," Huck said, and he was assigned there until his discharge in 1945. During that time, many Americans gave their lives throughout WW II. Huck and Davenport entering the war after Guadalcanal.

"There was a lot of guys in the same boat (missing home) and we were glad to get out," Huck said. They remained close in later years.

"The last 15 years, a group of us enjoy what we call the Barber Point Reunion, U.S. Marines hosted by one of us in our state."

There were 25 of them at first and now they are down to 10. Last year's was in Moline, the year before that, Huck hosted one in Burlington, Iowa, before that it was in California.

Huck has been able to take his wife a couple times to visit Hawaii and cruise to the different islands.

Upon returning from the war, Huck worked at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown, Iowa. He would drive a truck working inside the plant and twice a week travel to the Arsenal in Moline. Later he worked for Dohrn Transfer driving a semi out of their Burlington, Iowa terminal within a six state area. Many times he made runs to Chicago and back but was finally able to retire in 1983 after 30 years.

Three years after his discharge, Huck married Barbara Finch in 1948. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Finch who worked for DeKalb.

Huck has been an active firemen, living across from the fire department, when he was home, and Barb pretty much raised the kids, due to Huck's overnight stays as a trucker.

His wife is serving her 13th year on the County Board and was Mayor of Oquawka for 10 years, and is active in the United Methodist Church.

They have four married children, LuAnn Meyer a teachers Associate, husband Robert farms near Rozetta.; Mark is Henderson County Sheriff and his wife Debbie works at the County Health Dept. in Gladstone; Karen Miller and husband Larry live in Washington, Iowa, both teachers; and Steven is an electrician for Knox College and his wife Kristi teaches.

They have eleven grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

On June 20th, they celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.

Now that Huck is 83, he says he doesn't enjoy those night fire calls, but he goes and he is glad to help out. He said there is a lot of young volunteers coming on to the department and they do a lot of training. We have a lot of good equipment and good support from the community which he and the firemen appreciate.

There are always water shortage issues in the country when we go to the fire, but even worst, some tragedies, like the Keever boy who died of an heart attack when he and Huck were at a fire.

In retirement, Huck likes to watch the White Sox, the Cubs, and Bears, but he prefers to do it from his home when his family asks him to join them in Chicago for a game. He enjoys playing with the grandkids, though he admits they can wear him out. "They live close by, so I can send them home," Huck said.

Every morning Huck enjoys coffee at "The Hub." restaurant and still enjoys mowing (on a rider mower) their large yard."

For this Oquawka citizen of the year, there is no place like home.

"I enjoy living in Oquawka, love the river, the small town life where I know most of the people."