Verna Welsh is honoring her brothers Paul and Dale Kingsley.
It has been more than seven decades since she’s seen her brothers. But on Monday morning, the two 48-star flags that were presented to her family after their deaths in World War II will be presented back to her, nicely folded.
Two honor guards from the Kansas Air National Guard and the McConnell Air Force Base will present the flags at 9 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.
“Oh, it is very special,” said Welsh, 80.
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The flags had been kept in a plastic bag since the brothers’ funerals. She was 9 when Dale died and 10 when Paul died.
Dale Frances Kingsley, her oldest brother, was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was training to be a pilot.
“We grew up on a farm near Perth, southwest of Wellington,” Welsh said. “Dale didn’t have a car to take him back and forth to school, so he worked for a dairy farmer on the west side of Wellington. Then he went into the Army Air Corps.”
He and a training pilot were flying near Blythe, Calif., when their plane crashed on June 30, 1943.
Army Pvt. Paul E. Kingsley also wanted to be a pilot but didn’t have the eyesight for it, so he enlisted in the Army, she said. He was killed in action on Dec. 18, 1944, on the Siegfried Line in Germany. And although his remains were temporarily buried in France, they were repatriated to the U.S. on Aug. 9, 1948.
Both brothers lie side by side at the Sacred Heart Cemetery near Perth.
“Paul was my favorite. He played the guitar and would sit and sing songs to me,” Welsh said. “He helped mom in the kitchen and made cookies and candy. He was shipped overseas and was there two days before he was killed, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.”
After all those years in plastic, the flags were wrinkled, Welsh said.
A family friend suggested she take them to McConnell and have them refolded.
The flags will be presented seven decades after Japan surrendered, marking the close of World War II.
“I thought that was going to be the end of wars, but it wasn’t,” Welsh said. “I was unhappy when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, because I always said that if they hadn’t, my brothers wouldn’t have been killed.”
The flags are a constant reminder that her brothers served their country.