Harold J. “Hal” Kotora, 97, a former longtime resident of Riverside, died Aug. 12, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado.
Mr. Kotora served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. A second lieutenant, he piloted a P-51 Mustang fighter from an airfield in Fowlmere, England, a member of the 339th Fighter Group that provided escorts for bombers over the continent and carried out missions in support of ground operations from April 1944 through the end of the European campaign in 1945.
The fighter group had a distinguished combat record and earned a Presidential Unit Citation for the actions of its pilots.
Following the war, Mr. Kotora returned to the Chicago area, marrying Eileen Kalivoda and settling in Riverside and embarking on a career as a commercial artist.
Mr. Kotora was preceded in death by his wife, Eileen Kotora (nee Kalivoda) and parents, James and Agnes (nee Rabiega) Kotora. He is survived by his daughter, Kim Criter; his son, Hal Kotora Jr.; his brothers, James (Leona) and Raymond; his sister, Geraldine Gregory; his grandsons, Kurt and Kip Criter; and his great granddaughters, Lilly and Kensley Criter.
Services with full military honors have been held. Interment was at Chapel Hill Gardens West Funeral Cemetery, Oakbrook Terrace.