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.