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Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 02:56 am


Feb. 13, 1926 – Sept. 23, 2011

A crowd of sleepy-eyed family members, friends and well-wishers waited anxiously at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield. They were not waiting for a rock star or even the President of the United States, but instead were waiting for the return of the Honor Flight to touch down. My father, Joseph F. Henderson, Jr., was a proud member of that flight. Our family could not have been more proud. My father was 17 years old when he enlisted in the United States Navy to fight for our country in WWII. From the beach of Normandy, France, to the streets of Springfield, Ill., he always continued to serve.

For as long as I can remember he made sure that heavy winter coats, food and clothing were donated to the Homeless Veterans, Contact Ministries and Helping Hands. He also made donations to Friend in Deed and the Sojourn House. After retirement from Fiat-Allis, he volunteered his time at St. John’s Breadline. He did not do these things for a pat on the back; he did these things because it was the right thing to do.

My father wasn’t famous or well known, but to those who knew him, he was one of America’s Greatest Generation. He was a man who spent 60 years with our mom, Rose Marie, a father to his six children and a grandfather and great grandfather. He was a hero to his country, but a bigger hero to us. We will never forget him. Sadly, Dad’s tour on this earth ended Sept. 23. We love and miss you, Dad.  

–Dawn M. Henderson


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