92-Year-Old Veteran Shares Memories of Army Air Corp Service
Posted in the Giddings Forum
#1 Nov 27, 2013
Similar to McDonalds, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has a special character that makes appearances on behalf of children. His name is Mr. Bob and he too is a clown. Bob Kenny is a 92-year-old veteran and resident of Buckner Villas, who served the United States during World War II as an airplane and engine mechanic. He served the Army Air Corp for three and a half years and has been serving the VFW for more than 20 years by playing the role of Mr. Bob. Each year he dresses up as Mr. Bob and interacts with kids during the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Austin.
I enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1942 and served for three and a half years until 1946, said Kenny.
At the time I had two brothers off at war and a sweetheart at home. Although the thought of leaving my sweetheart at home was discouraging, I felt in my heart that it was my duty to serve my country during a time that they needed me. Once I enlisted, I was sent to Dallas for aviation school where I received an airplane and engine mechanic degree. After completing my school work, I was transferred to New Mexico to work on the AT11s, which were bombardier trainers. Four trainees rode in the bomb trainer and flew over pseudo targets and practiced dropping bombs. It was my duty to make sure they were all working and in top mechanical conditions.
After working in New Mexico, Kenny got the urge to join in on the combat and went back to school to learn how to be a gunner. He was then sent to California where he served in the 53rd weather reconnaissance. Kenny and his fellow crew members flew over the north Atlantic every day recording the weather. He said they did not have the technology capabilities that are available today. They made regular trips to Iceland, Canada and Greenland. Kennys most prized souvenir is a Canadian dollar that both Frank Sinatra and Phil Silvers signed. He still has the dollar to this day. He also has three medals from his service that he cherishes.
When I was working on the B17s in the 53rd weather reconnaissance, I was responsible for making sure the engine and everything else about the plane was running smooth, said Kenny.I checked all the mechanics of the plane and reported any problems or irregularities. Sometimes it would get monotonous flying over the water all the time, so we would fly close to the glaciers and watch the polar bears jump off into the water. Other times we would coast over an ice field and take a look at all the seals that were sprawled out on the ice. From afar they looked like ants. One time we even flew over my hometown and I caught a glimpse of my mom sitting on the porch of her home.
When Kenny came back from the war he was welcomed home by his family and his wifes family. They were happy to see that he had survived and were proud of his service.
My wife was so relieved when I got back home for good, said Kenny.After a year of service I had taken a leave of absence and we were married. We spent the first two and a half years of our marriage apart from one another. I wrote her lots of love letters though. We knew we were destined to be together since grade school. We graduated from the same high school and we simply knew it was meant to be. We were married in my hometown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After the war, Kenny started a career with Kraft foods where he ended up transitioning from a salesman to a territorial manager. Upon his retirement, Kenny found his new calling as the clown of the Austin branch of the VFW.
Mr. Bob is a big hit at Buckner Villas, said Doyle Antle, executive director of Buckner Villas.We all think it is wonderful that he spends his time volunteering for the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. We are proud of his service and of the services fellow veterans at the community provided to the US.
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