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Son waits almost 71 years to get father's flag

RICHMOND — Kenneth “Red” and Betty Hendrix received a very special package in the mail. On Jan. 8, Red received a box containing his father’s flag and a small metal box containing several pieces of paper.

Red will be 83 years old March 27. He remembers losing his father, Mart Hendrix, in 1943, at the age of 12. His sister was 14 and his brother was 16 when their father died.

Red’s father, born May 29, 1906, was killed July 21, 1943, in an accident while home on leave from the service during WWII. He had been in the military for about two years.

Mart was buried with military honors, including a flag-draped casket, two days after his death. Because his parents were separated, Red said the folded flag was handed to his aunt, Maddie Perkins (Mart’s sister). However, the flag was tucked away and soon forgotten.

Red grew up, married and he and wife Betty have two daughters, three sons and seven grandchildren.

He farmed in the Valley View/Tates Creek area, raising many tobacco crops. Neighbors often remarked that he had “one of the best tobacco crops in the area,” Red recalled.

A cousin’s wife called in April 2013 to tell Red she had something that belonged to his father. On Jan. 8, he received a package that contained his father’s flag and a small, rusty metal box with several folded pieces of paper.

The rusty box had “Three States” written across the top and the Kentucky state emblem on the front, with some other emblems, difficult to make out, on the side.

The flag was in perfect condition. It included 48 stars, all hand sewn, representing states then in the union.

The small rusty box, however, contained the most interesting things, Red said. There were several doctor’s bills from a Dr. Baily for the sum of $2 from 1915, an April 1913 hand-written letter from a family member and a May 9, 1904, receipt from the railroad for two hours of work that included a team of mules. In small print at the bottom of the receipt, it says no hand was allowed to make more than $1.50 in each year.

It also included a newspaper clipping from the Richmond Daily Register that included an advertisement for Dakota Jack’s Indian Remedies, sold by Madison Drug Company at the corner of First and Main streets. Dakota Jack’s “cowboy liniment” sold for only 25 cents. The advertisement said it was made of roots, barks and berries, and was good for treating “human diseases.”

Flag-draped caskets represent a final tribute to the men and women who have served in the U.S. military to “secure the blessings of liberty,” Red noted. Burial flags are “a special tribute that the family of every veteran should be aware of and take advantage of because it is a final tribute to freedom,” he said.

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