Former Congressman Bob Michel (R-Peoria), served as Minority Leader of the U.S. House and Michel was also president of the Illinois State Society of Washington, DC from 1966 to 1967.
Bob Michel was born in Peoria on March 2, 1923 and attended Peoria public schools. He served as a combat infantryman with the 39th Infantry Regiment in World War II from 1943 to 1945. Michel saw service in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. He was wounded by German machine gun fire and was awarded the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, and four battle stars.
Michel fought in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest on the German-Belgian border. The bitter battle in severe winter weather raged from Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan. 25, 1945 and engaged more than 1,155,000 British, American, and German troops. It was the largest single battle for 600,000 American soldiers since the combined Union and Confederate armies faced each other in 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the Civil War. He was one of the veterans who returned in December 2004 for the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of that battle.
Bob Michel graduated from Bradley University in 1948. In 1956 he ran for a seat in Congress previously held by his former boss, Rep. Harold Velde. He served in the House for the next 38 years until his retirement in 1995. As the House Minority Whip 1979-1985 and the House Minority Leader from 1985 to 1995, he worked closely with Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton on their legislative agendas. In late 1994, the Illinois State Society planted a tree in honor of Bob Michel at the foot of Capitol Hill. The tree had to be planted closer to the Senate side on Constitution Avenue due to the lack of sites on the House site. In 2006, Bob Michel was working as a government affairs consultant for Hogan and Hartson in Washington, DC.