Almost 80 years have passed since the tragic loss of 23-year-old World War II airman, 2nd Lieutenant Kenyon Brindley from Little Rock. Declared missing in action, his family has been waiting for his return. And now, their long wait is finally coming to an end.
Joe Brindley, who is now 95 years old, has been eagerly anticipating this moment for quite some time. The last time he laid eyes on his older brother, Kenyon, was when Joe himself was just 14 years old.
Brindley expressed her pride in her son, stating, “I was very proud of him.” However, she also admitted feeling a sense of fear, knowing that he would be going to war.
2nd Lieutenant Kenyon Brindley served as an Air Force bombardier on board a B-24-J Liberator, which was a part of The Mighty Eighth special division under the command of Jimmy Stewart.
On February 24, 1944, in the skies above Gotha, Germany, Kenyon embarked on his 13th mission. However, during the course of this mission, his aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire. Despite the challenges, Kenyon and two other crewmembers managed to escape the plane by parachuting to safety. According to one survivor, the aircraft was engulfed in flames and descending rapidly before ultimately exploding upon impact with the ground.
Brindley expressed his disbelief, stating, “After all those years, we never really thought it was going to happen. You know, because you just almost gave up.”
In 2021, the airmen were exhumed by scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. Working alongside the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, these scientists utilized anthropological and mitochondrial DNA obtained from one of Kenyon’s living nieces to successfully identify him.
On September 21, 2023, Brindley’s remains were identified through anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis, leading to his official accounting. His name is now inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium, alongside other individuals who are still missing from World War II. As a symbol of his identification, a rosette will be placed next to his name.
Joe expressed his heartfelt gratitude for all the efforts made in locating the bodies of the missing men.
Kenyon and Joe maintained regular correspondence during Kenyon’s training and time overseas. Joe, inspired by his brother, followed in his footsteps and joined the Air Force. In a touching tribute, he even named his son Kenyon, and to this day, his grandson carries Kenyon as his middle name.
Joe has held on to Kenyon’s words from his letters, reading them repeatedly throughout his life. Kenyon’s reassuring messages, such as “You’ll be fine,” “Everything will work out,” and “You’ll be able to come home,” have always resonated with Joe.
Now, these words hold a deeper significance. After nearly a century, the search to find Kenyon has finally come to an end, bringing renewed hope to his family. Joe aspires for this story to provide the same sense of solace to those who are still searching for their missing loved ones.
“Don’t lose hope. Keep believing that someday they will locate your family member,” Joe encouraged.
On Friday, December 15th, Kenyon Brindley makes his way back to Arkansas, accompanied by a military escort.
On Monday, December 18, the Roller McNutt Funeral Home will host a public visitation in remembrance of him. The visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. Following the visitation, a public funeral service will take place. The burial, however, will be a private affair.
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