Friday, July 25, 2008

Keith Eugene Phend 1922-1943

My niece and I spent all day this past Wednesday taking apart Mom's photo albums and sorting the pictures into "family" stacks - one for her pictures, a stack for each of us four kids, and additional stacks for each of her siblings. There was 2 shelves worth of albums that consumed about 48" worth of space on her bookshelf. Now we have to sort and sequence each of those stacks.

While sorting those pictures in Mom's albums, the thought that there would be any surprises never even crossed my mind. I thought I had seen all of the pictures before. Way back when I was working on the Phend Family History I had asked if anyone had pictures of Keith Phend, Mom's first cousin. Keith had been killed On October 25, 1943 in an airplane crash while in training at the Naval Station at Quonset Point Rhode Island. There didn't seem to be any pictures of Keith; none were received from his siblings.

So, back to last Wednesday. Sorting pictures. I don't remember which album they were in, but they were where they shouldn't have been. Two pictures clearly marked with his name, Keith Phend. Mom said she knew she had them but didn't know where, so when I asked it was easier for her to just say she didn't have any. . . Keith was born March 4, 1922. Neither picture is dated but the one as a young man is probably his high school graduation picture. Both pictures simply melted my heart, but especially the one of him as a young boy.

The obituary of Keith Phend as published in the October 30, 1943 edition of the Columbia City Post:

Local Youth is Killed Monday in Air Crash.

A telegram from the U.S. Naval commander of the station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, received Oct. 26th by M. F. Magley told of the death of his grandson, Keith E. Phend, aged 21, in an airplane crash on Oct. 25.

Phend, who had recently completed his training as radioman upon a naval bomber plane, was in Columbia City on October 21 as the guest of his grandparents here. At the time of his visit here, he was on leave from the station in Rhode Island from Wednesday until Sunday. He had attained the rank of A.R.M. third class since his enlistment in the Navy on September 28, 1942 at Fort Wayne.

His preliminary training was secured at Great Lakes U.S. Naval Training school and thence he went to the Naval air training school at Jacksonville, Fla. He was transferred to the Rhode Island station only about six weeks ago.

The telegram announcing his death was as follows: "Deeply regret to inform you that Keith E. Phend was killed in an airplane crash on October 26, while in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. Sincere sympathy is extended to you in your great loss." The telegram was signed by the Commanding Officer of the station. A telegram was received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Phend, at their home at Springport, Michigan, telling of the tragedy.

The parents of the young man have advised Mr. and Mrs. Magley that the body will be sent to Springport, but that they plan for burial in Columbia City.

The victim of the plane crash was born in Columbia City on March 4, 1922 to Mr. and Mrs. Russell Phend, and attended school here in the grades. The family moved to Springport, where Mr. Phend has operated a service station for several years. Keith attended Jackson high school, from which he was graduated in the class of 1940. Following his graduation he assisted in the shop of his grandfather in Columbia City for nearly a year and then secured employment in the Freuhauf trailer plant at Fort Wayne, where he was employed when he enlisted in the Navy. While here he was a member of the Baptist church of Columbia City.

No details of the plane crash have yet been received by relatives in this city, nor by his parents in Michigan.

And, his funeral notice of November 1, 1943 also in The Post:

Naval Rites Held for Keith Phend.

Full military rites were held Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the First Baptist church for Keith E. Phend, 21, A.R.M. 3/c, son of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Phend of Springport, Mich., who was killed in an airplane crash last Monday near Quonset Point, R. I.

The Rev. Walter Mickley, pastor of the church, was assisted in the funeral service by Rev. Marion R. Shroyer, pastor of the First Church of God, and the Rev. Edwin Bauer, naval chaplain from Bunker Hill. Members of the U.S. Naval Air Station at Bunker Hill attended the services in a group and served as the pallbearers, color guard and firing squad. Carter Diffendarfer, close friend of the family, served as head usher at the church. Committal services were held in Greenhill cemetery.

Miss Catherine Sarrich, vocal instructor in the public schools at Springport sang "My Buddy." Her piano accompaniment was played by Mrs. Lucille Lonsbery, also of Springport.

The rites held in this city followed a short service held at the Phend residence in Springport at 9 o'clock Saturday morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Becky - Thanks for sharing this article on Keith Phend. He would have been my uncle and his death was a great loss to his family, especially my mother Nancy (your Mom's first cousin) who was only 14 at the time. My grandmother Juanita (Magley) Phend told me once that they knew somehow he had passed away even before they were notified by the military. Your Phend history book is a great work - I have had a copy for a number of years. Thanks for all the good work you do.

Jim Horsch
Okemos Michigan