Marion Frank Kilar was born 14 September 1914 in Detroit, Michigan. and died 4 January 1996 in Pensacola, Florida. Grandpa K was inducted into the U.S. Army in the spring of 1942. From 1942 to 1943 he went through Fort Bragg Artillery School for Coastal Artillery Defense. He later transferred to the Army Air Corps 358th Fighter Group where he served at Richmond Air Field (VA), Philadelphia (PA), Fort Meade (MD), Fort Hancock (NJ), and VIII Fighter Command (RAF Honington, England). He traveled throughout Europe, mostly France and Germany until he was discharged out of La Junta Army Air Field (CO) with the final rank of sergeant. He settled down in Chicago and Pensacola with his wife of 50 years, the former Audrey Martin Smith of Mullens/Clio/Dillon, South Carolina.
He was a great storyteller. One thing that stuck out from his stories is that he was smart enough to get selected for the special jobs in the Army, but smart enough to avoid the annoying grunt work as well. He was selected for special assignments such as the earlier radar systems due to his strong math and science aptitude. The most special assignment he was selected for watching over two rambunctious little boys. For the short time that he raised me and my little brother, he was always firm but fair, and always funny. Both of those boys seemed to have turned out alright.
Postscript: There is a debate in the family as to Grandpa K’s proper name. His first name is recorded as “Marion” or “Maryan” and his middle name is recorded as “Francis” or “Frank”. The official death records show his name as “Marion Frank”, but I have encountered many documents that show him as “Marion Francis”. I grew up knowing his name to be “Marion Francis”, so that is what I report here.
Post-post-scriptum: I have other pictures, but I prefer to share this one picture over and over to remember both Grandma and Grandpa. As a kid, I used to get in trouble (a lot) and have to stand in the corner. Many times my eyes would wander and I would stare at this exact picture out of the corner of my eye. Years later, I came to identify that picture as the defining picture of their marriage.