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Kenneth Pickering Lett

M/SGT in Signal Company, Special : Radio HQ

ASN#6555813

Born 1916 in OH, Died 1989

County of residence at enlistment: Scioto County, OH
Other residence(s): Racine, OH; Columbia, PA; New Boston, OH; Arlington, TX
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Source: Signal Company Special Roster, 20 Oct 1944; photo from Nancy Lett

Kenneth Lett was born on August 2, 1916 in Racine, OH, the second of nine children born in four different states. His father was a construction engineer. One of his brothers died in his teens from illness, and a younger brother was born paraplegic.

By 1930 the family was living in Columbia, PA; they supplemented their income by renting rooms to three boarders.

Kenneth enlisted in the Army on June 20, 1935, at the age of 18, and was stationed in California and Hawaii. His  family had moved to West Virginia, and, with six children, was struggling a bit financially during the depression. So, after his discharge on March 4, 1938, he moved in with his aunt and uncle in New Boston, OH, and returned to high school to earn his diploma.

He was still a student at Glenwood High School in New Boston when he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. After graduating in 1941, he enlisted (the second time) on March 6, 1942 and was stationed at Camp Barkeley in Texas. There he met a young woman from Arlington, TX named Mamie Francis Marshall and they were married in Fort Worth on December 2, 1942. They would go on to have two children: Kenneth Jr. and Nancy.

Kenneth served in Europe in the Signal Company Special and earned the rank of Master SGT. He became ill in the last days of the war and was released on August 20, 1945 and sent home. His daughter recounts that "when he arrived in what was then a small Texas town between Dallas and Fort Worth known as Arlington, they stopped the train, something they never did, to let one of the first returning soldiers get off at his hometown. As he walked the eight blocks to his wife and baby's home, the people along the street started calling my grandmother's house to tell them he was walking their way. Townsfolk, farm people, all came out to greet this Ohio kid, married to a Texas girl, and the first veteran back in their town."

Kenneth went to work at Armour & Co. Meat Packing in Fort Worth as an industrial engineer. He later worked for Neuhoff Beef in Dallas; he recalled watching out the window as President Kennedy's limousine sped to Parkland Hospital after the shooting. Later he worked as a private industrial engineering consultant in the Dallas area until he retired at the age of 62.

Kenneth was also a cattle rancher, and, like many Signal Company vets, enjoyed short-wave radio in his spare time.

His son Kenneth Jr. followed his father's footsteps into the military, serving two tours of duty with the Air Force in Vietnam with Operation Ranch Hand on the Agent Orange planes, and, like his father, earning the rank of SGT.  He received 100% disability from Agent Orange-related health issues some years later, and was part of the research group at the Scripps Clinic that the Air Force conducted for many years.

Kenneth Sr. died in February 1989 in Arlington, and is buried at Old Arlington Cemetery. His daughter eulogizes him: "He was a good husband, a good father, and a good soldier, and lived an honorable life."

Sources:

1916 Ohio birth index (confirms Ohio birth, though census data says Indiana)

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/278495:3146?ssrc=pt&tid=16330899&pid=371971240

1930 census

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/52207459:6224?ssrc=pt&tid=16330899&pid=371971240

1940 census

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/32228330:2442?ssrc=pt&tid=16330899&pid=371971240

1940 draft card

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/200788524:2238?tid=&pid=&queryId=5e8d7c46d155a49a2fbea8d6df5d8a7c&_phsrc=YCW1&_phstart=successSource

1942 enlistment record

https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=8939&h=6990671&tid=&pid=&queryId=5e8d7c46d155a49a2fbea8d6df5d8a7c&usePUB=true&_phsrc=YCW3&_phstart=successSource

1942 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) re his marriage

https://www.newspapers.com/image/637572369/?terms=kenneth%20p.%20lett&match=1

1969 article in The Commerce Journal (Commerce, TX) re his son's military career

https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7245/images/NEWS-TX-CO_JO.1969_02_27_0009?treeid=&personid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=YCW13&_phstart=successSource&pId=508128265&rcstate=NEWS-TX-CO_JO.1969_02_27_0009%3A3890%2C2208%2C3962%2C2250%3B3876%2C2246%2C3960%2C2288%3B3807%2C3963%2C3946%2C3996%3B2933%2C75%2C3075%2C117%3B3629%2C2575%2C3720%2C2617%3B3167%2C2700%2C3284%2C2783%3B3158%2C2933%2C3285%2C2966%3B3358%2C2933%2C3449%2C2966%3B3692%2C2208%2C3818%2C2250

1989 US select headstone photos

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/278495:3146?ssrc=pt&tid=16330899&pid=371971240

1989 VA death record

https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/4817807:2441?ssrc=pt&tid=16330899&pid=371971240

1989 Find a Grave record

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/78635856/kenneth-pickering-lett

2022 (February 3)  GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from daughter Nancy Lett

2022 (February 27) email from daughter Nancy Lett to Catherine Hurst

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