A friend of a friend-7th Bombardment Group-Francis D Kenney-June 21

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for June 21, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

Today is Father’s Day and like many my age I will be reflecting on my own dad rather than spending time with him. My dad died in 1991 and I am thankful for how he has influenced my life. Today will also be a neat Father’s Day treat for me as I take my youngest son to his college orientation at East Carolina University. He will be there the next two days getting ready and acclimated for his enrollment in August.

As I reflect on my dad there are a lot of unique things that come to mind. My dad’s full name was Francis Daniel Kenney but everyone called him “Darb”.  That nickname was also used to reference all my dad’s brothers while they were in high school but it stuck with him his entire life. I have never quite figured how in the hell my dad got the nickname “Darb”. I have two explanations one it was some type of slur for Irish Immigrants but I like to believe that is was a 1920’s phrase Darb – An excellent person or thing.

My dad and his brothers were all “Darb” excellent in their own unique way.

I found a website dedicated to 1920 slang.


My dad was born in Morristown, NJ on September 27, 1919. He passed away on March 7, 1991 at the age of 71. He was the father to six children and was married to my mom for almost 40 years before he died.

My dad didn’t have an easy life growing up. His mom Bridget Masterson Kenney was 40 years old when he was born. She died when he was 16 years old and a junior in high school. My grandmother was born in County Caven, Ireland.

My grandfather was John Joseph Kenney lived and was born on 50 Walnut Street in Jersey City, NJ on January 17, 1879. He was delivered by a Dr. U. Allen. He died at the age of 83 in Morristown, NJ on January 5, 1962. As a small boy I called him “Pop” and remember him working at Weiss Auto in Morristown, NJ. He lost his first wife Bridget in 1936 and eventually remarried Katherine Murphy on October 11, 1941 at Assumption Church in Morristown. Katherine Murphy was born in County Armagh, Ireland on October 29, 1891.

I was told “Pop” parents were Thomas Kenney and Mary Kenney. Mary Kenney was my great-grandmother and she was born in Ireland.  My oldest son’s name is Geoffrey Thomas so I am glad that he will know that part of his name goes back 5 generations on the Kenney Family tree.

My grandfather died in 1962 and  his second wife Katherine moved in with us. Things were tight in our small house on 11 Lake Road. We had 9 people sharing 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. Katherine died on December 8, 1968 at the age of 77. The irony of this was that my grandfather “Pop” sold to my dad the house on 11Lake Road in 1957 when my brother Tom was born. Pop and Katherine moved into the apartment we were living at on Maple Avenue. That is where Pop lived until he passed away.

My dad was the youngest of four children two brothers and a sister. Losing his mom meant he had little time for after school activities. He loved sports but he had a sense of duty over fun. That sense of duty remained with him his entire life.

His sister Mary Theresa Kenney Longo like his own mom died at an early age. My Aunt Mary who I never knew died when I was just 9 months old-she was only 40 years old. Mary married a fine Italian man named Jimmy Longo in 1950. Aunt Mary gave birth to a daughter my cousin Patty less than two years after she got married. Patty like me has had a career as coach. My uncle Jimmy died in October of 1982. Patty is still living in Bayonne, NJ in the home she grew up with my Aunt and Uncle.

My dad’s two brothers Tom and Eugene both were grown and out of the house before he finished high school. Tom my dad’s oldest sibling was the Chief of Police in Bernardsville, NJ. Tom like my dad was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. I have been told by many that Uncle Tom was a star football player and ace baseball pitcher for Morristown HS from 1924-1928.

Tom Kenney married Adelaide McGuinness. My Aunt Lolly as we called her was born in 1910 and died in 1987. Uncle Tom was ten years older than my dad and he was born on August 29, 1909 and died on April 27, 1973. Tom like my dad was in the army and served in World War II.

Bernardsville, NJ Chief of Police Tom Kenney

Tom Kenney

Bernardsville’s claim to fame was having Mike Tyson while married to Robin Givens live there. Mike had a few dustups in Bernardsville, NJ but my uncle had passed away before Mike Tyson became a resident. Uncle Tom and Aunt Lolly did not have children.


My dad’s brother Eugene was a year younger than his older brother Tom but 9 years older than my dad. He was born on November 27, 1910 and died October 1985 at the age of 74. Uncle Gene had a number of careers but the one I remember was he was a realtor down on Elm Street in Morristown. Uncle Gene went to Bayley HS and was an all-around athlete there. In 1943 Gene moved to Pulaski, VA for some business related reason.

Uncle Gene lived in Hawthorne. NJ and had two sons John and Eugene Jr. and was married to his wife Marie Morebutter who was born in Ontario, Canada. Aunt Marie was born May 31, 1915 and passed away June 24, 2007 at the age of 92. My uncle Gene was also a college basketball referee and he would often bring me tickets to watch the ECAC Holiday Classic in Madison Square Garden while I was still in high school. Those tickets were cherished gifts and it fueled my desire to become involved with college athletics.


(l-r) My mom Patricia Kenney, my brother Tom Kenney, my dad Francis D. Kenney


The Friend of the Friend-THE 7TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP

Picture taking in India December 1944 my dad is back row far left

7th Bombardment Group

World War II  

My dad joined the US Army Air Corp in 1939 a couple years out of high school. He eventually became part of the 7th Bombardment Group. Within 8 months of enlisting he went from a private to a Master Sergeant. He supervised 110 men all assigned to maintain B-17 and B-24 aircraft.

The 7th Bombardment Group was one of the older formations in the United States Army Air Corp (USAAC) in 1941, having been active since 1928. Late in 1941 it was decided to reinforce the Far East Air Force on the Philippines. The 7th was chosen to fly its B-17s out to the Philippines, while its ground echelons traveled by sea. The ground echelon left San Francisco for the Philippines on 21 November 1941, and the first contingent of aircraft took off on the evening of 6th December, heading for Hawaii. My dad was on the USS Republic. During the attack some of the planes circled the base and were undamaged. Those planes eventually joined up with the ground forces ahead of them on the sea.

My dad was part of the ground echelon travelling to the Philippines. He was aboard a troop transporter that arrived in Pearl Harbor on November 29, 1941 and departed for the Philippines on November 30, 1941 just one week before the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. They got a radio message to change course and set sail for Australia. From there my dad spent the next four years of the war stationed in India. He got discharged in 1945 near the war’s end.

My dad like many other WW II vets never talked much about the war. Some research has proven that he and his buddies of the 7th Bombardment had a distinguished role in serving our country.

Today many of my dad’s buddies are no longer with us.  Many of my dad’s friends that came back went on to become a dad just like him.

To all those children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the men my dad served with in the 7th Bombardment Group –HAPPY FATHERS Day.

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