By Brenda Erdal:
For 28 years Kenny Hennen has had an important job. As the Sergeant of Arms for the American Legion Post 131 in Maple Lake it has been his duty and honor to send off departed soldiers with the solemnity and dignity they deserve.
Since 1990, Hennen has led Legionnaires and VFW members through military ceremonies at countless funerals for members of Maple Lake and Annandale communities who once served their country and have now passed on.
A veteran of the Korean Con- flict himself, Hennen is finally passing on the reigns of leadership. From now on Gary Brannick will take over Hennen’s duties, but not all on his own.
A still energetic and dedicated Legionnaire, Hennen plans to ease the transition by showing Brannick the ropes and helping the younger man out as much as he can.
“I thought it was time to retire,” said Hennen who doesn’t walk as well as he used to.
“I have been to many, many, many funerals over the years,” he said, figuring between the two communities he’s led 20 to 25 military funerals a year since he started.
Sergeant of Arms is just one of the capacities Hennen has served as a Legionnaire during his tenure; his participation in the organization started much, much earlier.
Hennen was drafted to serve in the Korean Conflict in the early 1950s. He was a part of the US Army overseas with the 7th Division, 32nd Infantry Regt., Tank Company. He was a soldier on the front lines and has many stories to tell, like the time he dove into a hole in the side of a hill to escape enemy fire only to find it occupied with soldiers from Ethiopia. Only one of the party could speak a word of English and to Hennen’s sur- prise he soon learned the man had attended college at Michi- gan State. Hennen knew a little about the college’s athletics and so they talked football and bas- ketball in that dark, dank cave in the Korean mountains.
“I’ll never forget that,” Hennen said.
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