Last Minute Effort Saves Minuteman Missile
Maryville, Illinois – The Minuteman missile outside the former Chanute Air Force Base will remain in Rantoul thanks to the efforts of local leaders, veterans, the U.S. Air Force, and the Office of Congressman John Shimkus (R-Illinois).
This morning the Director of the National Museum of the U.S Air Force, David Tillotson, called the congressman’s office to confirm the stop work order to terminate the planned demolition contract.
"Last week I received calls from several local VFW chapters and veterans of Chanute,” said Shimkus. “I called the Mayor and City Manager in Rantoul, and we all agreed we had to work fast to preserve this important piece of Cold War history.”
Shimkus tasked Thomas Blanford, a staff member in his Washington, DC office and a native of Paris, Illinois, with the time-sensitive project. Working with the Air Force Legislative Liaison and the Defense Logistics Agency, Blanford coordinated the effort that will now begin the process of transferring the missile back to National Museum of the Air Force so it can be loaned to the City of Rantoul.
"I appreciate the work Thomas and everyone involved in this effort did to save the missile,” Shimkus added. “Artifacts like this are increasingly rare reminders of a different time. They’re worth maintaining not just to honor those who served, but to help teach younger generations about our history and the challenges our nation has overcome."
"I extend my deepest appreciation to Congressman John Shimkus for his focused efforts to assure that our military history remains preserved in this community,” said Rantoul Mayor Charles Smith. “The retention of this artifact has both significant and historical meaning to veterans from across the United States. I want to personally thank the VFW of Rantoul, many prior service members who gave their support, and the Rantoul Historical Society and Museum who offered to sponsor the first-generation Minuteman. We are honored to accept the Minuteman missile as a symbol of defense and freedom for this great nation."