It is KCTV5's Brad Stephen's opinion that some of the most interesting stories in the newspaper can be found in the obituaries.
One such obituary that appeared in last Friday's Kansas City Star was for Kansas City, KS, native Thomas Kobe. It reads, in part, that he was a World War II Army veteran and fought in the battle at Normandy in northern France, and other significant battles too numerous to mention. But that's just part of the story.
On a recent sun-drenched afternoon, the colors red, white and blue never looked more grand.
With pride and respect, local members of the Patriot Guard escorted a flag-draped coffin from KCK to the Leavenworth National Cemetery. It's where they bury heroes.
The cemetery is where Thomas Kobe's story ends, but it's also notable to go back to the beginning.
Born in KCK, Thomas Kobe grew up in a house on Strawberry Hill. As a young man, he followed in the footsteps of his four older brothers who had joined the military and were fighting in World War II.
That was about the extent of what his daughter, Theresa Kobe, knew of his service. She had always known her father as a KCK police officer.
"I remember the feeling of relief when I would hear him coming up the steps - the sound of his leather and his handcuffs - just the sound of a police officer was security to me because I knew Dad was home and he was safe," Theresa Kobe said.
About the only thing she really knew about her dad's military service was a picture of him taken during World War II.
"We're going through the grocery store one day and my son sees a magazine with Dad's picture on the cover and he says, ‘Mom, isn't that Grandpa?' Sure it is. We buy it and go home and show it to him," Theresa Kobe said.
It's an iconic World War II photo. TimeMagazine used it for its special edition, 80 Days that Changed the World. The young man in the center of the photo staring right back at the picture taker is Thomas Kobe at the precise moment he was storming the beaches of Normandy during the great allied invasion.
"I was just so proud of him - he survived that. All his buddies and friends that he made in training, he lost, he saw them. They were there with him one minute and gone the next. One of his best buddies stepped on a land mine right in front of him," Theresa Kobe said.
What her father did next saved countless lives on the beach that day as he lobbed a grenade to take out a German machine gun nest.
"He said, for just a split second, he realized what he was doing - he has to take life, but he needs to save life at the same time. He was at a chasm right there (he pulled the pin) and threw it and ducked and it went off and took the whole pillbox out and saved everyone who was being fired on," Theresa Kobe said.
Thomas Kobe received three Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart for his service.
After the war, he returned home to KCK and married Grace, the love of his life. They remained married for six decades until Grace passed away last year.
For Theresa Kobe, the full military funeral was the perfect sendoff for her hero and she said a gesture made by members of the Patriot Guard will remain with her forever.
"They all walked up to me and gave me a hug and told me how proud they were to be invited here to ride for dad. I was going to thank them and they said ‘no, no, we thank you.' My heart was just swelling out of my chest."
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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