COLUMBIA — Bob Kennish, a veteran of World War II and a former Army paratrooper, was one of 35 veterans who took the Honor Flight on May 5.
During his trip, he received letters from family during a “mail call” on the plane ride home.
“I received about eight or nine letters that had been well thought of, and they’d taken quite a bit of time, I could tell, to express their appreciation for not just what I’d done but what everybody had done during the war years,” he said.
For him, these letters marked a favorite part of his experience.
“I’m very grateful to my wife, my son and daughter and my grandchildren who all wrote me a letter that I wasn’t expecting on the airplane," he said. "That was very touching, because I realized that they know a lot more about what I’ve done and where I was and that it wasn’t easy, and it’s great to have a good family."
The following letter is from Kennish's daughter:
As you left home as a young man of barely 18 years old, I’m sure you were wondering if you would ever return to Mound City, Missouri, to begin the life that young men of that age dream of. I know it must have been very difficult to leave your family and friends behind and to venture into an unknown new life that you had not even chosen for yourself. Yet, you were willing to leave everything comfortable and safe, and everyone that you had ever known in order to serve your country and protect your loved ones. Not only did you protect those loved ones known to you at the time, you also helped to protect those that you would later meet and love — your future wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Because of men and women like those who are traveling with you today, I have the freedom to live as I choose and to go where I please. I am grateful for that freedom and the good life that I have had. I have often thought about how hard it must have been for Grandmother and Grandad to watch you leave that day, not knowing if they would ever see their son again. Thanks to the sacrifices of so many veterans, including several from my own family, I don’t have to face watching my children go to war. I am very grateful to our veterans that I have never had to know that pain.
As you travel to Washington, D.C., today to view the memorial to honor those who served in World War II, I hope that you will feel the pride that so many of us have for you. I wish a very eventful and memorable day for you and your veteran “brothers.” It has been a long time coming — this beautiful memorial — and I’m excited that you will get the opportunity to see it, along with some of the other veterans for whom it was erected to honor. I will be thinking of you, as well as all of my uncles who served in WWII, on May 5th. I am proud to be a part of this family and to be an American; and I am most proud to be your daughter.