Boozman Shares Service Memories of Little Rock Veteran in Recognition of Black History Month
Feb 11 2022
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of 90-year-old Korean War veteran Lumas Kendrick Sr. in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Kendrick was born in Buena Vista, Arkansas on December 13, 1931. His family moved from Ouachita County to Pine Bluff in 1939 before settling in Little Rock, a community he still calls home today.
As a student, Kendrick was determined to get a good education, but it wasn’t easy. He lived three blocks away from an elementary school, but because of segregation, “we had to drive by there all the way to our school in Wrightsville which was 14 miles away,” he said.
In 1952, while pursuing a job opportunity at Boeing in Wichita, Kansas, Kendrick received word that he’d been drafted. “I had to come all the way back to Arkansas because my mother said ‘you need to come back because we don’t want you to get into any trouble.’”
He was inducted into the U.S. Army on September 26, 1952. While completing basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Kendrick said he volunteered for three years of service instead of the two-year induction commitment.
He deployed to Korea and was assigned to the Air Force where he served with the 622nd Aviation Engineers. His team repaired landing strips and developed a way to make them more durable for the weather conditions.
“The temperature would get down to 50 or 60 degrees below zero. When the F-86 Sabre jets would take off the concrete would just blow us from the heat of the exhaust and would leave little potholes all over the airstrip,” Kendrick said. “What we learned to do is replace it with the concrete strips. We’d put eight inches of asphalt on top of that because the asphalt could take the heat.”
Before his deployment, Kendrick married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy. He was always happy to receive her letters and his mom’s tea cakes, which were a hit with his fellow troops. “She would send a box of tea cakes and we’d get them about a month later. When they came, if you didn’t get the first three out of there and then pass the box around it’d be empty when it came back around.”
When his military service ended, Kendrick returned to Arkansas and pursued higher education with the help of the GI Bill. “I worked eight hours a day and went to school for four hours at night,” he said. His hard work paid off. He graduated with a degree in social studies from Arkansas Baptist College.
Through the years, he raised four children and contributed in the development of countless Arkansans’ lives through his role as an Upward Bound dorm parent at Philander Smith College and other civic and volunteer work.
He received an honorary doctorate from Northwestern Theological Bible Institute for his community action work. In 2019, Kendrick received the Republic of Korea Ambassador for Peace Medal from the South Korean government in appreciation for his service in the Korean War.
Kendrick has been involved in numerous community organizations and refuses to let age slow him down. He is a member of the American Legion Post 74 and serves on the board of directors for the Arkansas Choral Society.
“When I first went to the church I was the youngest man, and now I’m the oldest,” he said about his 65-year membership at Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock.
“Lumas Kendrick Sr. has led a life devoted to public service. He honorably served our nation in uniform and continues living out his commitment to his community today. I am grateful for his leadership and honored to share his memories,” Boozman said.
Boozman will submit Kendrick’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.
Click play to view the video or follow this link