World War II veteran dies at 101, honored by family and friends
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Honoring an Alabama hero: family, friends, veterans and active military gathered today to honor the life of World War II veteran Gabriel Kinney, who passed away recently at the age of 101.
Kinney is an army veteran who fought in Burma as one of the Merrill’s Marauders.
Kinney was born in 1921 in rural Alabama. He enlisted in 1942 and soon after was one of many who volunteered to join the Marauders.
Kinney is survived by his wife, Elena, whom he married in 1945, and four of their six children, and his grandchildren who said “Best grandpa ever, he risked his life for everyone, he was on the state football championship team, I’m glad he’s with everybody.”
His daughter Patricia Nelson said, “the thing that was really important to me growing up was I always felt very safe around him.”
His son Richard Kinney said, “at the end of his life, probably three weeks before he passed, I asked him, I said ‘Dad how did you do that? How did you make it when things were so tough?’ And he said ‘We just did what we needed to do,’ and there’s a reason they call his generation the greatest generation.”
Decades after the war, many of his family members say he never talked about his time in Burma, until recently.
Nelson said they knew nothing about anything, most of their lives, “so, it’s been something we’ve all kind of walked through with him.”
Veteran Joe Stringham said, “he had plenty of people know what he did in the war and it was extrordinary.”
“The Merrill’s Marauders about a year and a half ago were rewarded the congressional Medal of Honor which was quite an honor, and my dad was able to accept that on behalf of all the Merrill’s Marauders,” Richard Kinney said.
Kinney was also inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.
Barton Dodson, a Ranger said “Gabe is a ranger, he’s one of the few remaining original Merrill’s Marauders so it was great privilege for us to honor him and none of us will ever forget that he was very important to all of us.”
Veteran Clay Usie said, “you hear about those men in the history books and to actually meet one of his significance, it’s like meeting a super hero in some regards.”
With his death, only one veteran of Merrill’s Marauders remains living. You can find Kinney’s legacy displayed in the American Village’s Veteran Shrine.
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