Army PFC James M. Bilder of Palos Heights has graduated from basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. Bilder’s family held a homecoming party in his honor on Feb. 3, when more than 50 friends and relatives gathered at the home of his parents, Jim and Bernie Bilder.
Bilder, a junior at Lewis University in Romeoville, joined the Illinois National Guard in May 2012 and reported to the Joliet Armory on Sept. 12. He is assigned to the 178th Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 33rd Brigade served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. The outfit is the same one in which Bilder’s great-grandfather, Leonard F. Fairfield, served as a forward observer with the artillery in France during World War I.