WWII vet who helped take 3,000 servicemen to their final resting place dies

Credit: Matt Standal / KTVB

Kenny Smith helped in the burial services of more than 3,000 veterans at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. He recorded the names, dates and accounts of the services in his daily log book. The record of the World War II veteran started in 2004 and ended in April 4, 2014. After three days of the last entry, Smith died. He is known as the longest-serving volunteer who helped in the interment in Idaho State Veteran’s Cemetery.

The home o the World War II veteran is filled with memories of his experience during the war and the servicemen he helped to their last resting place. Photographs, merits and awards and other memorabilia fill his home including an official recognition form Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch Otter” and Senator Mike Crapo for serving 6,150 hours. Smith, 86, would make a trip from his home in Boise to Eagle almost every day to help bury and honor the WWII veterans whom he had never met before.

His daughter, Sandy McCary said that her father was very loyal. He is said to be a loyal patriot who love the flag and the symbols of the flag.

What made this veteran special is that he went out of his way despite his disability to the interment services. Smith lost both his legs due to frostbite in an accident in the workplace after the war. However, he did not stop from making volunteer service. He procured an all-terrain vehicle to get around the cemetery.

The cemetery director, James Earp, shared that Smith would be on ATV during the burial services. Smith would greet family members and accompany them as their loved ones are taken to their final resting place. He would then get out of his ATV and stand on prosthetic legs to honor the American flag.

Earp also reported that Smith has made it about 3,000 burial services. He said that Smith is already part of the cemetery. The veteran got involved in the construction of the cemetery and held the site of honoring the veterans with utmost pride.

The cemetery not only holds the veterans just like Smith. It also holds a very special person to Smith, his wife Doris. She passed away while the veteran’s cemetery was under construction. McCary said that her mother, Doris, died of Alzheimer’s Disease. While she was alive, Smith cared for her until her death in 2003. Smith visited the grave of his wife and communicated with her.

Kenny Smith will be buried with with his wife. This time, volunteers will attend the ceremony to greet his family and salute the flag following after Smith’s example to thousands of veterans he helped bury. His funeral is set at 10:00 in the morning of April 21, Monday, at Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel in Boise.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE