Delphon Charley Kenney, 90, passed away on October 7, 2012 in Tyler, Texas. He was born August 6, 1922 in Woodbine, Iowa to Ella V. Kenney and Gaylord Kenney. They were longtime Rio Grande Valley (Texas) residents, where he was raised. He graduated from Harlingen High School, Class of 1940, and attended Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife of 43 years, Mary Lee Gunsul Kenney, his parents, and his sister Donagayl Hill. His brother, Clarence H. Kenney, is a longtime Harlingen resident.
Delphon Kenney joined the United States Army Air Corps in 1942 and became a pilot, initially serving in the 14th Fighter Group, 49th Squadron. He flew 22 fighter missions piloting Lockheed P-38 Lightnings from bases in North Africa and Italy in 1943-44, and then transferred to the 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in Bari, Italy and flew 20 solo weather recon missions. He was shot down in Yugoslavia (modern Croatia), in the village of Crni Lug, where eyewitnesses still remember a stocky young man parachuting safely to earth with a big smile as he saw a Partisan soldier waiting to care for him. He was officially MIA for one month while being escorted with other airmen safely back to Italy. He was awarded two Purple Hearts.
Delphon and Mary Lee were a US Air Force family, stationed at bases in Montana, Texas, Okinawa, and northern Japan. He flew some after WWII, worked in auto maintenance, and eventually worked in air traffic control. He retired from the military in1967 to work with the Federal Aviation Administration in pilot weather briefing at Houston Hobby Airport. Upon leaving the FAA, he and Mary Lee became full time RV-ers and traveled all over the US. Mary Lee passed away in 1992, and Delphon eventually settled in Bridge City TX and later in Tyler TX.
He enjoyed reading and watching television, and telling fun stories about the automobiles he had owned and the adventures he had in them. He loved babies, and he was a loving son, husband, and father.
In addition to his brother Clarence Kenney, Delphon Kenney is survived by his 5 children; David Kenney (and wife Sally) of Spring TX, Karla Allen (husband Troy) of Bullard TX, Mark Kenney (wife Cynthia) of Montgomery AL, Bruce Kenney (wife Mary) of Atlanta GA, and Paul Kenney (wife Melissa) of Bridge City TX. Also, 13 grandchildren; Bryan Kenney, Ashley Holloway, Nancy Johnson, Clay Allen, Charlie Allen, Ben Allen, Rachel Osteen, Steven Kenney, DeAnn Kenney, Chelsa Gurkin, Megan Kenney, Kayla Norman, and Kristina Kenney. There are also more than 25 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the family present from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home.
Graveside service will be held on Friday, October 12, 2012, 11 a.m. at Mont Meta Memorial Park, San Benito Texas.
You are invited to sign the guestbook at: www.buckashcraft.com
Arrangements are with Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home, Harlingen Texas.
Sign the guestbook at: http://legacy.com/valleystar/obituaries.asp.
Published in Valley Morning Star from Oct. 10 to Oct. 11, 2012