Loyalty Day Parade déjà vu
Kuhnert selected as parade marshal for 2nd time in event’s 48-year history
May 01. 2014 10:29AM
The 48th annual Loyalty Day Parade may seem more like Groundhog Day for one Brandon resident.
Selected as the parade marshal for the second time in the last decade – near as Kenny Kuhnert can reckon, anyway – he’ll smile and wave his way through the parade route once again this Sunday.
“It must be all the work I’ve done,” says the humble 69-year-old Kuhnert.
Drafted into the U.S. Army at the young age of 23, Kuhnert served his two years in Vietnam working as a helicopter mechanic. He arrived there just after the TAT Offenses were over, he tells.
“It was a good job,” he said. “The pilots would always ask, ‘who worked on this helicopter?’ and I would say, ‘I did, sir.’ … You didn’t make many mistakes because there were too many lives involved.”
Kuhnert said he didn’t shy away from his call to duty. “I thought I might as well go and get it over with,” he tells. “I wasn’t going to take off and go to Canada like a lot of them did.”
The Rowena native says his two years of service went quickly, and he admits, “Then, I wished I would’ve went for 20 (years).”
Although Kuhnert didn’t serve on the frontlines, he did see some frontline action.
“It never leaves your mind,” he says.
Upon his return to Brandon from Vietnam, he went to work at Huset’s Speedway, watering the track for the next seven to eight years, and in 1978-79, he went to work for Paul Henry at Blaine’s Service.
Kuhnert, who is a Lifetime VFW member, stepped up his involvement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Three Rivers Post 4726 in Brandon when he retired from his job at Blaine’s. He quickly stepped into the role of Post Commander, a position he held for five years. He’s also filled the Junior Vice position, and serves as the chairman for the local Poppy and District 2 Poppy sales programs.
Kuhnert has also been a longtime fixture in the VFW’s Color Guard, which will present the colors this Saturday at the South Dakota State Special Olympics Track & Field Meet here.
The now seasonal employee for the City of Brandon said he takes great pride in seeing the red, white and blue blowing in the breeze.
“I like the flag,” he tells. “Because it – and the Bible – brought me back from Vietnam. I came back in one piece and when I got to Sioux Falls, I kissed the ground.”
He adds: “Loyalty Day is my favorite time of the year. To see all the American flags that everybody brings and flies is pretty special.”
In addition to his officer and poppy chairman roles with the local VFW, Kuhnert is also largely responsible for decorating Holly Boulevard with 81 flags that line the street for each and every patriotic holiday.
“It’s a big job but there are a lot of good people around town who help, too,” Kuhnert said. “And it really lights up the town.”