To veterans, with love

American Legion Auxiliary president plays Santa at Belle Reve

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  • From left: Avery, Ken Tinqust’s great-granddaughter; President of Milford’s Ausiliary, Katie Jo Kardel; Sandy, Ken’s daughter; and Navy Sailor Ken Tinquist holding fuzzy Sherlock Holmes, dressed as the great detective for which he is named, complete with his hat. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • American Legion Auxiliary President Katie Jo Kardel stands next to veteran Ray Smith while Belle Reve’s care worker, Irina Abayeva, holds a framed tee shirt of Ray’s B-24. Ray’s wife, Alice, is seated. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • The president of Milford’s American Legion Auxiliary, Katie Jo Kardel, packed gifts at the American Legion Auxiliary, then personally delivered them to more than veterans at Milford Senior Center and Belle Reve Senior Living Center on Dec. 27. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— Katie Jo Kardel, president of Milford's American Legion Auxiliary, on Dec. 27 personally delivered remembrance gifts to 30 veterans at the Milford Senior Center and Belle Reve Senior Living.

She spent time with each veteran, thanking them for their service.

During World War II, ninety-five-year old veteran Ray Smith was one of the B-24 plane's ball turret gunners, one of the most dangerous assignments in the war. Gunners were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bottom of the plane, where there was no hiding from the enemy.

Smith was part of the Army Air Corps. He and his wife, Alice, have nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Kardel brought a gift to Smith, thanking him for his Army Air Corps service. He has a framed tee shirt featuring the B-24 and the website, which provides the history of the service men who flew in B-24s. The story "B-24 Liberator" is on its way to becoming an IMAX historical film (

Navy sailor Ken Tinquist is visited frequently by his loving family, including his furry pal Sherlock Holmes, who dressed up as the great detective from whom he gets his name, complete with a Holmes' hat.

"It is important to make sure each senior veteran knows their service is appreciated and respected," said Kardel.

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