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Hubbard County approves naming Laporte basin after WWII vet

Gary Kennedy and Laurie Hooker, son and daughter of Charles G. Kennedy, submitted the request to the county.

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Charles G. Kennedy was a U.S. Army Air Force staff sergeant and ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber during World War II.

A Laporte family is paying tribute to their father, who served during World War II, in a unique way.

This week, the Hubbard County Board approved their request to name a water basin after Charles G. Kennedy.

Previously unnamed and known only as 29-0372-00, the water body is located in Lakeport Township.

Gary Kennedy and Laurie Hooker, son and daughter of Charles, submitted the request to the county in July. Their petition included 14 signatures from neighbors, friends and family. A public hearing was held Tuesday, Aug. 17.

The Lakeport Township Board approved the same request on Aug. 11.

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Gary explained to county commissioners that his parents lived on the property from 1950 to 2018. He and wife Connie purchased it and currently own approximately 1,000 feet of shoreline on the water body. It's one of several basins that the Kabekona River passes through, Gary noted.

Bomber squadron and POW

Originally from Pipestone, Minn., Charles lived from 1923 to 1995. He entered the service in April 1943. He was a U.S. Army Air Force staff sergeant and ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber. He served with the 94th Bomber Group, 410th Bomber Squadron.

On his 29th mission, the B-17 was shot down. He became a prisoner of war (POW) at Stalag VII-A, XIII-D in Frankfurt, Germany. He would spend eight months as a POW, until the end of the war.

“Fun fact: While he was a POW, he thought he heard his only brother’s voice. He turned around. It was him. Thankfully, they returned home together,” the petition states.

Charles worked for 23 years in the Walker School District.

“We kinda felt Dad was Dad,” Gary said at the public hearing, but after Charles passed away, they learned how that generation didn’t talk about anything. They certainly didn’t get treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as combat soldiers do now, he said.

“It’s a nice gesture to honor your father,” county commissioner Ted Van Kempen said.

“I know there’s tons and tons of veterans in the area, myself included,” Gary replied. “It’s more for – not just him – for all of them. As Dad used to say, ‘There’s nothing like East Benedict.’”

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County commissioner Dan Stacey commented, “I think it’s noble and I think it’s important.”

Board chair David De La Hunt said, “It’s nice to celebrate people’s service to our country. These are token things we can do that showcase that.”

Gary thanked County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Rave for her assistance during the process.

“This is the fun part of my job,” Rave said after the hearing.

Before the naming is official, approvals are needed from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Board of U.S. Geographic Names.

When the process is complete, the Kennedys are considering putting a flagpole memorial for veterans on their property.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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