Emmet and Erling – Friends For Life – The War Veteran And The Toddler Who Bonded Over Tomatoes (Watch)

The bond between a Second World War veteran and a young boy was fostered by tomatoes. The way Erling Kindem told it, the tomatoes brought them together.

Every time little Emmet saw Erling Kinden outside, he would come running over, asking if he had any ‘matoes?’ told Kinden to NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis,

They kind of formed an attachment over the tomatoes in his vegetable patch, Emmett’s mother, Anika Rychner, told KARE.  Emmett loves tomatoes.

Emmett and his family ultimately moved to a nearby town, and so did Erling. Still, the improbable pair remained chums. When Erling turned 90, Emmett sang “Happy Birthday” to him.  He was present, too, when the time came to say goodbye to Erling for the last time.

ABC News reported that Erling Kindem died in October, a few days after Emmett last saw him.

The television station reported on their friendship when Emmet was three-years-old and Erling was 89.

Emmett was the only child on the neighborhood block. “There weren’t any other children, so he would come over and bang on Dad’s door,” Charlie Kindem, Erling’s adult son, told the national broadcaster. “Emmet would ask if Erling could come out and have fun.”

But at the time, both Emmett and Erling were headed for big changes. Emmett and his family were preparing to move to a new house; Erling was going to move to a senior’s apartment.

After Emmett’s family prepared to move to a new house and Erling to a senior’s home, they still saw each other.  Emmett was present for Erling’s 90th birthday celebration, as an example. (KARE reported that Emmett gave Erling two pairs of dog tags. One read “Emmett & Erling” and the other “Friends Forever,” so that they could each have one to wear.)

He visited before Erling before his death in late October.

Erling’s son told network news that his 91-year-old father died after suffering heart failure. Emmett now six-years-old — read a prayer to him during his last visit.

KARE has reported that Erling Kindem was a Second World War veteran who flew over two dozen combat missions.

Boyd Huppert, the KARE broadcast journalist who has reported on the Emmett-Erling story, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he was often stopped by viewers who wanted a progress report about the duo, The Washington Post reported.

There’s no exaggeration on his part, Huppert told the paper. When he was at the Minnesota State Fair, he had probably a dozen or more people approach him and ask about Emmet and Erling, as the two became something of an internet senation.Huppert is going to miss that as word gets out that Erling has died.  He has dreaded that day because it ends now, and it was joyous.

We’ve included this video of the pair from KARE. Check these two out!


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE