Delphon Kenney

Delphon Charley Kenney, 90, passed away on Oct. 7, 2012, in Tyler. He was born Aug. 6, 1922, in Woodbine, Iowa, to Ella V. Kenney and Gaylord Kenney. They were longtime Rio Grande Valley 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 U.S. Air Force family, stationed at bases in Montana, Texas, Okinawa and northern Japan. He flew some after World War II, 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'rs and traveled all over the U.S. Mary Lee passed away in 1992, and Delphon eventually settled in Bridge City and later in Tyler.

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 five children, David Kenney and wife Sally of Spring, Karla Allen and husband Troy of Bullard, Mark Kenney and wife Cynthia of Montgomery Ala., Bruce Kenney and wife Mary of Atlanta, Ga., and Paul Kenney and wife Melissa of Bridge City; and 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, Oct. 11, 2012, from noon to 9 p.m. with the family present from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home, Harlingen.

Graveside service will be held on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 11 a.m. in Mont Meta Memorial Park, San Benito.

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Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Oct. 11, 2012