On February 8, 1922, Henry William Keding was born in Davenport, Iowa, to Carl and Louisa Keding. He grew up in Davenport, Iowa.
During World War II he joined the Army.1 He served five years and eventually became a 1st lieutenant. He served a fourteen-month assignment in the European Theater.2 A Theater of conflict is a geographic area where military events happen. During World War II, the European Theater was across the entire continent of Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains.3 This would have included countries like France, Germany, Italy, and more. Henry fought in Germany as an air observer with the 3rd and 9th Armies.4 An air observer’s job at that time was to do reconnaissance – learn and gather more information about the enemy to better adjust the plan and supplies needed.5 Before that, he was with the 185th Field Artillery, Iowa National Guard.6 The field artillery job is to help fight against the enemy with larger and mobile weapons such as cannons, rockets, or missile fire.7
In January 1945, Henry was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded for heroic or honorable achievement or service.8 The Air Medal is awarded to military personnel for honorable achievement related to aviation.9 Henry received the bronze star for his service as a forward observer while participating in the operations against Metz while part of a battalion of the 377th Infantry. He was awarded the Air Medal for completion of 35 missions.10 Later in 1945, Henry trained to be a liaison pilot at Sheppard Field, Texas.
After the war, Henry got married to Fern Essex on July 6, 1946, in Davenport, Iowa. During their wedding they cut the cake with a German officer’s knife that Henry had collected from his time overseas in the war.11 In 1946, Henry and another ex-GI, were training at the Ernst and Jansen millworks in Davenport for future careers. They received a minimum of two years experience under the Veteran Administration’s on-the-job training program before becoming cabinetmakers.12
Fern and Henry had four children named Nancy Jo Briggs, Linda Keding, Carl Keding, and Cheryl Engeland. Fern and Henry also had nine grandchildren and many great grandchildren.13 In 1959, Fern and Henry lost an infant daughter at birth.14
Henry was a carpenter at local #4. He then worked at St. Ambrose University for ten years before retiring in 1987. Fern was employed at Victor Anagraph and then was a crossing guard for the city of Davenport. She retired in 1984.15
Henry passed away on February 26, 2014. He was buried in the Rock Island National Cemetery. His wife, Fern, passed away in 2015 and was buried alongside him.18
2 “Evening Nuptials Unite Miss Traeger and Henry Keding.” The Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa). July 7, 1946.
11 “Evening Nuptials Unite Miss Traeger and Henry Keding.” The Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa). July 7, 1946.