Several hundred children attended the Christmas party held Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Boys and Girls Club of Lac Courte Oreilles. They received toys given to them by the family of an Illinois soldier who was killed in Afghanistan four years ago.
The featured event at the party was the fourth annual “A Soldier’s Wish: The Thomas J. Boyle Jr. Gift Giveaway,” which was sponsored by Pauline, Ryan and Andrea Boyle and coordinated by Shondel Barber.
The giveaway started with an honor song by the Boys and Girls Club Drum group as LCO Eagle Staff carrier Gary Quaderer Sr. marched around the gym. Children lined up to visit with Santa and express their wish. The kids then received gifts handed out by Teen Images members of the Boys and Girls Club.
Pauline Boyle, the widow of Thomas Boyle Jr. and an LCO tribal member, said the gift giveaway is in honor of her husband.
“We live outside Chicago (Algonquin). We collect about 2,000 toys and bring them up here. Shondel Barber and the staff at the Boys and Girls Club sort them and put them out and put together this nice event.”
Thomas Boyle Jr. was a decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War.
After returning from Vietnam, Boyle began a 30-year career with the Chicago Police Department. “He was a man who dedicated his life to help children, who were innocent survivors of war and conflict,” the proclamation says. “Throughout his life, he delivered gifts and other items of need to children.”
The proclamation notes that after retiring as a police detective, Boyle deployed in support of several Department of Defense contingencies, including service in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his final deployment, Boyle served with the Second Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He died on June 19, 2012, during an attack at Forward Operating Base Provincial Reserve in Kandahar, “culminating a lifetime of service to his country.”
On July 22, 2015, the Defense Medal of Freedom was awarded posthumously to Thomas Boyle at a ceremony in the Pentagon.