George E. Struve
Biography: George Edwin Struve was born on July 6, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of John Struve and Anna Gehlis and attended local schools until the age of 16, when he joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). While in the CCC, he was involved in the construction of the Skokie Lagoons, which are located just north of Chicago near the shores of Lake Michigan.
In 1937, George met his future wife, Esther Louise Ida Matz, on a blind date. The couple would marry two years later on November 11, 1939, and move into a home in Hodgkins, IL.
Service Time: George entered the service on September 11, 1943, and was assigned to Company B of the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them in the U.S. They shipped out on June 3, 1944, from the New York port, aboard the ship New Amsterdam. They arrived in England on June 12th and after a month of additional training and final preparations, they boarded LST transports and landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on July 24th.
The 630th was equipped with 3″ towed anti-tank guns and entered the line near Colombieres. They advanced across France with the 28th Infantry Division to Luxembourg and supported operations against the Siegfried Line in September & October. Operating in the Hürtgen Forest in November, they shifted to the Ardennes sector with the 28th ID in late November and were still located there at the start of German offensive in December.
The unit shifted south to the Colmar area in January, 1945, where the 28th Infantry Division operated under French control. They returned north in mid-February only to redeploy south to the Saar region of Germany in mid-March, after which the battalion converted to the M36 self-propelled tank destroyer. They 630th participated in the elimination of the Ruhr Pocket in April and finally took up occupation duties at Zweibrücken on April 28th. The 630th received credit for five campaigns, including Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
George returned home to Hodgkins and his wife Esther. He began his civilian life working at the National Cylinder Gas Company, located in Hodgkins. He would later work for the Cook County Highway Department and was a Village Trustee in the late 40s. He was also Volunteer Fire Department Chief for 20 years, from 1949 to 1969.
He and Esther started their own business, in 1957, when they opened the Village Pantry. They changed the name to the 8-Ball Inn Tavern in 1964. He was still working for the highway department while bar tending at the 8-Ball. Esther would handle the cooking duties for the business.
George passed away on November 24, 2009, and was buried in the Saint Johns Cemetery in Hodgkins, IL. I want to thank the Struve family for their assistance with this tribute. I also want to thank Carole Grant for the use of the grave marker photo.