O.B. Streeper at the October 2012 Guns Save Life meeting.

It is with profound sadness that I report the passing of a great man and good friend, O.B. Streeper from Chenoa, IL.

Mr. Streeper was a great man, from a young age.  In World War II, at the ripe old age of about 18, he was the ball gunner on B-24.  His bird, Miss Carriage, was shot down over France.  Streeper earned a Silver Star for his classified actions behind enemy lines during those 87 days, including much work for the O.S.S.

Those of us at Guns Save Life who knew him recognized that Streeper would be a big hit to our audience if he would come speak.  For years he turned us down.  He was a modest man not accustomed to talking about himself.  Finally, he came out to Guns Save Life at our October 2012 meeting in Rantoul and shared with our members a recollection of what it was like early on after getting shot down.  The video is at Guns Save Life’s website.  His presentation earned him a rare standing ovation and was a huge hit with the audience.

What he left out were some of the bloodier recollections involving dead Germans and collaborators.  Streeper had his S&W .357 and a box of shells along with his .45 when he was shot down.  He came back with something like a dozen rounds remaining and each spent round was a deceased bad guy.   And that was just his wheelgun.  He liked to play with explosives too.  And he didn’t talk at the meeting about some of his OSS missions.

After the war, he worked in a machine shop and served as a volunteer fireman.  Extrication came naturally to Streeper and he pioneered modern vehicle extrication procedures and indeed developed and marketed a pneumatic version of the Jaws of Life for rescue crews.  His training of tens of thousands of firefighters over the years in what is today’s extrication techniques and is credited with saving a hundred thousand or more lives of those trapped in automobile crashes.

But you would never know that seeing him.  He was short, loud and brash with a touch of crude.  He didn’t drive a fancy car or try to impress anyone even though he was a very successful man in every sense of the word.  He was a fast judge of character and had no patience for big government, idiots or communists.  Politicians were highly suspect to him.

He was also a genius, and quite the eccentric who could build or make anything he needed or wanted out of wood or metal and his craftsmanship was impeccable.

He opened up his inner sanctum to a handful of trusted friends including some of us at Guns Save Life and it was jaw-dropping.  Looking back, I’m very honored for his friendship and confidence.

His daughter Linda reported to Frank Wright that O.B. was talking in his sleep last night, very clearly.   He was speaking to his fighters, apparently back in France, saying, “We gotta go in there.  I have to tell you, not all of us are going to  come back alive.  But, we all know we will have died fighting for our country.”  It was so O.B., to the very end.

America lost a genuine hero of the Greatest Generation today and those of us who know O.B. certainly feel a great sense of loss.

Godspeed O.B.






For information, visitation and funeral arrangements have been announced for our good friend O.B. Streeper, who died at home yesterday in Chenoa, IL. Please spread the word. Visitation: 2-6PM, Sunday, 17 February 2013 @ Duffy-Pils Memorial Home, 302 Lincoln St., Chenoa, IL (815-945-4011). Funeral: 10AM, Monday, 18 February 2013 @ Presbyterian Church of Chenoa, 212 Lincoln St., Chenoa, IL (815-945-4055).

14 thoughts on “O.B. Streeper. R.I.P. to an American hero UPDATED with arrangements”
  1. This is such a huge loss to all of us from the GSL community. Mr. Streeper was a true hero and I’m glad I had the honor of meeting him. Who knows, maybe he was the last World War II hero to ever speak at GSL…

  2. I am so sadden by this that I just don’t have the right words and hugs just don’t seem to work either. He was a true hero in every sense of the word. Makes me want to go see my Grandpa this weekend. So glad that his story was captured on video and can hopefully be retold over and over again. My thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and the GSL family as well.

    1. W, that’s my point exactly. We need to record stories of heroes like OB Streeper and Bill Cotter (if they are willing to share them), so they are not forgotten by future generations. We need to identify as many of them as possible and bring their stories to light. Perhaps through the Honor Flight program? They are leaving us so fast…

  3. It was truly my honor and privilege to have known and worked with O.B. for more than 10 years. His knowledge and life lessons have truly impacted so many lives. This is a huge loss on so many levels and it is my hope that future generations never forget the cost and price paid by those of the Greatest Generation. Rest in peace old friend you won’t be forgotten. Thanks for the impact you had in my life.

  4. They do not make people like him any more. I worked with O.B. for many years and know how many lives he helped save. He will be missed but never forgotten. You will be missed O.B.

  5. As a young man and new firefghter OB Streeper was a giant in the rescue business, his common sense teaching approach has and can do attitude have stuck with me my entire 35 year fire service career, it is ironic that he now passes in the year that I will retire from the fire service.

    God speed Mr. One of a kind

  6. O.B. you personally taught me a lot back in the 70’s. I admired you, and all that you shared with the Fire Service. Countless lives were saved due to your willingness to share your expertise. You were the innovator and master of extrication who left a huge mark on how the Fire Service operates today.
    Don Skalsky, Fire Chief (retired)

  7. I have had the honor of knowing this man for 32yrs.He would put on a ruff and gruf front, but he would do things for people that he did not want anyone to know about. There won’t be a day that goes buy that I won’t miss him! And to borrow a line from Saving Private Ryan, yes OB. you are a good man! I will always remeber with a smile his words of wisdom and OB isums Barry Martin

    1. We will have to talk, i will be at my daughter,s 4-7 for a week.
      What’s going on in Chenoa? have you seen Linda. How is she doing? I’m sure she is keeping busy which will help keep her mind on matters too much. see you all soon.

  8. All I can say is the world lost a great man. O.B. was a good friend, and I will miss him. Any one that had the honor to be his friend new that his door was always open, but beware to stay awhile becaus O.B. loved to tell stories to the few people that he called FRIEND. O.B. when you reach the gates of heaven make sure to take your hearing aids out of your pocket.

  9. Thank you for sharing your memories of Dad. This has been a difficult time for me but your support has certainly helped get us through this rough time. Your words have been so comforting and knowing he touched so many lives makes me very proud of my Dad. He was my hero. GSL was very important to him and he was very proud to me a member. Thank You
    Linda Leggett (Daughter)

  10. ELlie, O.B.,s companion for the past 17 years. We met just before Valentine’s Day. O.B. was always a gentleman with a “great” sense of humor. O.B. made you feel you were the most special lady, & Linda the most special daughter he could have. He was always busy and could do anything he put his mind to. He was loyal to his friends and would do anything in his power for anyone. I will remember him forever.

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