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Blade, Gene 

Gene Blade was raised on a small west central Illinois farm, and joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 1954. Two years later he enlisted in the Regular Army and served in an artillery unit in Hawaii before returning to Illinois and the family farm. Throughout the 1960s he owned a tire store and moved up through the Illinois National Guard, including a long tour as an artillery battery commander. By the late 1970s he became the Guard's first legislative liaison, and throughout the 1980s served as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the Illinois National Guard.

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