Afternoon Edition: July 16, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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James “Bud” Wilschke had to eject after his B-17 bomber was fired on during World War II. But he survived and, with help, stayed hidden from the Nazis for six months. He wrote about his wartime ordeal but stashed that in a “big mystery box” that his family didn’t discover until after his death.


Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be cloudy with a chance of showers and a high around 74 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 65. Tomorrow will be partly sunny with a high near 77 and Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high near 82.

Top story

‘Big mystery box’ revealed South Side man’s long-secret World War II near-death odyssey

As the B-17 bomber lumbered toward the west coast of France, Jim Wilschke crouched in the plane’s plexiglass nose, preparing to drop a 5,000-pound payload on a pen of Nazi U-boats — including one that would become a star attraction at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The Flying Fortress was at the rear of the U.S. air squadron. It was a precarious position to be in even in the best of times because it made it an easy target for German fighter planes.

Then, one of the aircraft’s four engines died. The plane began to lag behind.

Like jackals pouncing on a wounded antelope, the Germans swooped in. Machine-gun fire and cannon shells tore through the fuselage, the plane filled with smoke, and soon the bailout alarm sounded.

Wilschke, a native South Sider, grabbed his parachute. He squeezed through an escape hatch. And he jumped.

The story of what happened during the next six months — of Wilschke’s and another American airman’s life on the run in Nazi-occupied France — was one that almost no one heard. These were Wilschke’s secrets, tucked away in a “big mystery box” and rarely spoken of, maybe for the same reason it took him nearly 40 years to board another plane.

Now, that long-secret story has been turned into a book, “Bud’s Jacket,” written by his niece Barbara Wojcik, originally from Hinsdale and now living in Minnesota.

Stefano Esposito has more on Wilschke’s life and the journey to tell his story here.

More news you need

  1. Housing advocates are pushing to preserve two-flat buildings, which they say provide affordable apartments and generate wealth for homeowners in Black and Latino neighborhoods. Their initiative comes as residents are still reeling from the pandemic and weeks away from the eviction moratorium’s end.
  2. City Council today again put off a showdown vote on a civilian oversight board, this time until Tuesday. It’s been 26 months since Mayor Lightfoot promised to empower a board to fire the police superintendent and have the final say on police spending and policy.
  3. An off-duty Chicago Police officer who struck and killed a 9-year-old boy on a bike in West Rogers Park Wednesday has been issued a citation. Police said that the investigation is still ongoing.
  4. Two teenagers have been charged with killing a 73-year-old Marine veteran during an attempted carjacking in Hyde Park on Wednesday. The man was out running errands when the teens punched him in the head in an attempt to steal his SUV.
  5. The Chicago Police Board voted yesterday to fire Officer Jamie Jawor for brazenly pursuing an off-duty cop before he was involved in a high-speed crash that left him and another driver dead in 2017. She and her partner were pursuing Clark because his vehicle matched the description of another vehicle linked to an earlier carjacking.
  6. A summer edition of the Chicago Auto Show kicked off yesterday and will run until Monday at McCormick Place’s West Building. This year features an outdoor space for test driving, vehicle demonstrations and a street festival.
  7. A team of about 10 students is taking on NASA’s Vascular Tissue Challenge to create heart tissue that will help find solutions to the weakening of the heart muscle during space travel. Their findings could also help people with heart conditions on Earth, including organ transplants and stem cell regeneration of the heart.
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A bright one

Brookfield Zoo welcomes — finally — three baby wallabies

Brookfield Zoo is finally getting around to announcing the arrival of three of its newest residents — one of which was born eight months ago.

That’s because Wallaby mothers don’t proudly display their newborn infants — called joeys — which come into the world at about the size of a bumble bee.

”We always have to end up sort of estimating the actual day of birth because we don’t see it. They come out weighing about a gram, climb their way up into the pouch and attach onto one of the teats, and then stay in that pouch as they continue to grow and develop for several months after that before we ever really see them,” said Michael Adkesson, Brookfield’s vice president of clinical medicine.

The three joeys were, based on estimates, born between late October 2020 and early December, staff say.


Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society, feeds Whitney, a Bennett’s wallaby born at Brookfield Zoo on November 12, 2020.

Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo

Like their close relative, the larger kangaroo, wallabies are marsupials native to Australia and hop from place to place. The joeys each currently weigh about 2 1⁄2 pounds. They can weigh up to 60 pounds and reach a height of about 3 feet when fully grown, Adkesson said.

In the wild, wallabies inhabit coastal regions, woodlands and grasslands in Australia. The population is not currently endangered, according to zoo staff. But they are sometimes killed as an “agricultural pest” or hunted for their meat.

Brookfield’s wallabies — the zoo has a total of 29 — can be found in the Australia section and in the Wild Encounters area.

Stefano Esposito

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s the best song about Chicago? Tell us why.

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What do you think of the latest push by Democrats in the U.S. Senate to legalize cannabis nationwide? Here’s what some of you said...

“The real question is why it took so long.” — Jamie Gump

“The prohibition on marijuana should have ended long ago. It’s time to end the farce.” — Dale Johnson

“Might as well. People gonna use it anyway. A drunk stooge can still get liquored up and go to work the next day. It’s no different.” — Dave Bowers

“Possibly the only smart thing they’ve suggested in the last several years.” — Mitch Abrams

“No. Too many already drive while smoking pot. Their reaction times are causing issues on the road, not to mention the stench coming from their cars.” — Helen Rogers

“Won’t happen. The police and prison guard unions need easy targets. They don’t want to deal with violent criminals when they can pick on potheads.” — Christo Stefan

“Focus on more important things please.” — April Weller

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