top of page

PVT Jack Koch, Class of 44
Remembered by his classmates

Peorian’s from all the schools in the area answered their call to duty.  Many from PHS served in World War II.  Many awards are given out to for outstanding leadership and athletics.   This one is decided on by the coaches.  It is the Jack Koch (“Cook”) award.  It is still given to this day at Peoria High.  Jack Koch was a student and enlisted in 1944.  He was the class president.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice.  An excerpt from his final actions is below.  The All-School Reunion jarred a few memories from Jack's  death in WW II by a fellow classmate.  It was a difficult time for families with loved one's serving in the armed forces. 


Jack was assigned to the Combat Command B (CCB), 8th Armored Division, 137th Regimental Combat Team.  The Battle of the Bulge had just been repulsed and the remnants of that battle were being mopped up.  He was participating in Operation Grenade:  The Ninth Army offensive from the Roer River to the Rhine River.  Dates of this battle were Feb 23- March 11, 1945.  On March 6, 1945 Task Force Murray with the 137th Infantry and “what remained” of the 8th Armored Combat Command Bravo started north from Rheinberg to Wesel but German Defense again was fierce as German Forces struggled to cover their retreat and protect the Wesel Bridges. 


Jack was killed in this action.  Small arms and mortar fire was intense.  Jack belonged to an armored infantry unit and would normally have been protected by an armored personnel carrier (half-track).  He was dismounted at the time.  Perhaps as a result of half-track losses from the previous day or perhaps looking for mines along the road.  Whatever the cause of his fatal wound, Jack managed to crawl into a nearby ditch where a medic found him.  Jack’s assessment was that his wound was not as serious as others nearby and urged the medic to treat a nearby officer first.  For this selfless action, Jack was awarded the Silver Star medal (Posthumously) for gallantry in action.  A young life given towards our freedom and liberty.

It was a selfless act of sacrifice for his country.

Jack Koch Article_1.jpg

From the All-School Reunion Program 1996

From the 1955 PHS Crest


From the Opinion 2024 Honors Day Issue

Gary Rutherford was the recipient

bottom of page