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Monday, May 2, 2016

Brothers visit World War II memorial together

Friday, September 30, 2011

World War II veterans Kenneth Allred and Everett Allred, pictured above from left, pose in front of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Kenneth lives in Monett, and Everett lives in the Butterfield area. [Photo by Jacque Cheary]
Brothers Kenneth Allred and Everett Allred recently traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Ozarks Honor Flight program. At age 90 and 92, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the two veterans who served together in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1942 to 1946.

Getting the opportunity to tour the national veterans memorials side by side seemed fitting for the brothers who went through almost every day of their military service together.

"This was very uncommon," said Kenneth. "We enlisted at the same time and then were transferred 12 times, and we were always together. He got discharged two days before I did because he was older by two years."

Before enlisting at age 20 and 22, the brothers, who grew up in Monett, were working together in Colorado when they received a letter from their father, O.T. Allred, and decided it was time to return home to enlist rather than wait to be drafted.

"We were building Camp Carson and had only been there four months," said Kenneth. "We got 65 cents an hour, and we rented a tourist cabin for $4 a week. We didn't want to be drafted, so we quit our jobs and came home to enlist."

Shortly after enlisting, Kenneth and Everett were sent to boot camp in New York City, and from there, the brothers were stationed in Charleston, S.C.

"We guarded a shipyard and then they sent us to a little island off Charleston," said Kenneth.

There, a small crew of men, including both brothers, kept a lookout for enemy submarines by manning a 25-foot tower and conducting Jeep patrols of the beach. They stayed on the island for 30 days and then received five days leave.

"We liked it out there," said Kenneth. "They built us a little shack, and we had a cook. The island used to be owned by one couple. There were still wild hogs and cattle on the island."

While on island duty, the men spotted several enemy subs and were close enough to the action to see planes dive bombing those submarines.

Looking to advance themselves, Everett and Kenneth applied for Machinist Mate School in New York City and both were accepted. They completed the coursework and were promoted to second class petty officers.

The brothers returned to Charleston where they worked for the Coast Guard's fire department on a 63-foot tug boat. Everett ran the main engine, and Kenneth operated the six firefighting engines on the forward deck.

"We stayed there until the war was over," said Kenneth.

After being discharged from the Coast Guard, Kenneth went to live in St. Louis with his parents. His dad was a pastor at a church there, and Kenneth became acquainted with a young church organist named Jean.

"I knew her three weeks and we ran away and got married," said Kenneth. "We lacked 41 days of being married 61 years [when Jean passed away], so I guess getting married was the right thing to do."

Kenneth and Jean moved back to Kenneth's hometown of Monett in 1947, and Kenneth returned to work at Moss Market. He worked there for 20-some years as butcher and manager until the market sold.

"I've had a pretty good life," said Kenneth.

His recent trip to Washington, D.C., gave him the chance to visit a place he'd never been before. Kenneth said he rode the train through the D.C. area three times during the war but never stopped.

As part of the most recent Ozarks Honor Flight, Kenneth and Everett joined 70 other World War II veterans for a one-day trip to the nation's capital. The group, which also included 72 guardians, flew to Washington, D.C., and then visited the area in three tour buses.

The veterans were able to see the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Marine Corps War and Women in Military Service for America memorials. They also visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the Changing of the Guard.

"What impressed me most was Arlington Cemetery," said Kenneth. "It's amazing how big it is."

Kenneth also marveled at the attention given to him and other veterans throughout the very long day, which began at 5 a.m. and ended with their arrival back in Springfield at 10 p.m.

"They really took care of us," said Kenneth. "They fed us on the plane, and they had three of the nicest buses. I never spent one penny."

The veterans also received handwritten letters and drawings from area individuals. Kenneth's packet of correspondence included a number of letters written by Monett students, thanking him for his service.

Kenneth was accompanied on the trip by his daughter, Jacque Cheary, and Everett's guardian was his grandson, Michael Allred.

According to Cheary, one of the most inspiring parts of the Ozarks Honor Flight was watching the reactions of the World War II veterans as they saw the memorial erected in their honor for the first time.

"It was very humbling," said Cheary. "These men and women gave so much so that our country could continue to be the greatest nation in the world. We owe our freedoms to these heroes."

Cheary also appreciated the crowds that gathered at the Washington, D.C., and Springfield airports to greet the arriving veterans.

""The Springfield Airport was filled with people of all ages waving American flags with the Shrine Band playing patriotic songs in the background," said Cheary. "I was so thrilled to see my dad and uncle receive the sincere thanks and best wishes of over 300 people they had never met. It was an unforgettable experience."

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