As a kid on the Hi Line, everybody knew the Newtons and Newton Motors. But before even just a few years ago, I didn't know Kenny Newton's incredible story. Glasgow, Montana said goodbye to 100 year old WWII and POW veteran Kenny Newton this weekend.

Friday morning, I shared portions of his obituary on the radio during "Freedom Friday" with our friend and fellow veteran George Blackard. Here's a portion that talks about Kenny Newton and his fellow barracks-mate Mel Mellinger.

Not long after their arrival in Europe in December 1944, Kenny and Mel would be captured along with other Allied Forces during the Battle of the Bulge. They would spend the next couple months in a Nazi prison camp north of Dresden, Germany. The pair would eventually decide they would rather risk their lives trying to escape than die under the brutal conditions at the camp. The pair did indeed escape and spent several days making their way across the countryside trying to reconnect with the Allies. While hiding in a barn loft on an old German homestead the pair would be recaptured and imprisoned in a nearby city. Soon after their second imprisonment, they would be force marched away from the advancing Russian forces.

Here was another line from his obituary that stood out to me:
He was a man of faith and a servant to those around him. If ever someone needed a helping hand, he would reach out with both. Through his traumatic and miraculous experience during his military service, to his forty-one years of sobriety, to his sudden blindness early in 2002, Kenny learned to see the positive in even the bleakest circumstances and to strive to walk alongside those who may have stumbled.
After hearing the news of Kenny's passing, I remembered getting to meet him back in 2014 before a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort Peck Summer Theatre. We had some incredible guests that day like Rob O'Neill (before we knew that he was the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden) and then Lt. Colonel Dave Diamond. Diamond is a green beret who ran in the Boston Marathon and served with Staff Sergeant Aaron Holleyman, a green beret who gave his life for our country in Iraq and graduated high school in Glasgow.
In the middle of the lineup with several guests, Steve Page walked over with Kenny Newton, a now blind WWII veteran who talked at the time about the importance of building a NE Montana Veterans Memorial.

The Importance of the now built NE Montana Veterans Memorial

Kenny Newton in 2014: "I'm proud and happy to be here and for this whole Northeastern Montana Veterans movement. I can't say enough that we need it. We need it for the veterans that have gone before us, and we need it for the veterans that are like myself that will be here in the future. And the thing I liked- the word I liked is 'gone but not forgotten.' And then once you get this memorial up here, we can look at my picture, your picture and so forth and remind ourselves that I might be gone, but I'm not forgotten, because we made this memorial for you. That's all I have right now."
I am now kicking myself for not asking Kenny to share his personal story, although I imagine we were very short on time that morning also. I asked him what he did in WWII, and he described himself as a "highly talented foot soldier." He became a prisoner of war.

On Being a POW in WWII

Kenny Newton in 2014: That was part of the program. That was the way it ended up. We started fighting, but at the end of the day they outfought us, I guess, and we got surrounded and ended up being prisoners. But I was blessed to be able to come out of there with my my life and my facilities.
Since it was Memorial Day I asked him who he was remembering that day.
Here's the audio of our chat from Memorial Day 2014 at the Fort Peck Summer Theatre: 

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