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World War II veteran Frank Kidder, of Oxford, attended the town’s Memorial Day ceremony and even rode in the parade. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
May 30, 2012 - They survived the Great Depression, saved the world from fascism and helped turn the United States into an industrial and military superpower.

They truly were the Greatest Generation of the 20th century and Oxford resident Frank Kidder, 89, is one of them.

Proudly wearing his "WWII Veteran" hat, Kidder quietly sat in the shade at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery during Oxford's Memorial Day ceremony.

"I wear this hat a lot and I'm impressed with the number of young people that recognize it and will come up to me and shake hands," he said. "It's important that we don't forget. Freedom isn't free. These are meaningful ceremonies and I appreciate them."

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During the Second World War, Kidder served in the European Theater as part of the U.S. Army's 554th Engineer Heavy Ponton Battalion.

"We built floating bridges that would hold a 33-ton Sherman Tank," he said.

The 554th built bridges to help troops cross the Rhine, Roer and Weser rivers. The battalion was prepared to build one to cross the Elbe River, but it never happened as the war was coming to an end.

Serving in the army on another continent during a major war was "quite a change in life-style" for this then-22-year-old young man from northern Michigan's Harbor Springs.

"I'm glad I went," he said. "I wouldn't want to go again, but I'm glad I went."

After he served his country from 1943-45, Kidder moved to Oxford in 1946 and worked as a technician at the Ford Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo from 1956-86.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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