|Volume LV||Special Inaugural Edition January 2008||Number 1|
Brothers In Arms
They are two men from different backgrounds, living in different parts of the world. They have never met, but are brothers who serve one another and share similar values. Both members of the Abraham C. Treichler Lodge No. 682, Elizabethtown, Brothers Gen. C. Robert "Bob" Kehler and PFC Ken "Kenny" Henry have dedicated themselves to defending our country's freedom, as well as belonging to a fraternity based on principles of truth, faith, good will and honor.
Bro. Robert's military career includes assignments with global responsibilities and eight promotions, as he is now the Commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He was promoted to General in October, making him one of just 41 four-star officers in the uniformed services of the United States.
"I'm delighted to be in command of this organization," he said. "It's a dream come true; very exciting and humbling. I'm very mindful of my responsibility for the Airmen under my command and the broader military team, as well as the nation as a whole."
Bro. Robert is responsible for the development, acquisition and operation of the Air Force's space and missile systems. He oversees a global network of satellite command and control, communications, missile warning and launch facilities and ensures America's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force is combat-ready. He leads nearly 40,000 space professionals who provide combat forces and capabilities to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command.
"Space capabilities have shaped the American way of warfare in the 21st century, just like airpower did in the 20th," Bro. Robert said at a ceremony on Oct. 24. "The sky is no limit to what we can do."
In 1975, he entered the Air Force as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. His education includes a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University, a Master of Science degree from University of Oklahoma and a Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He is a distinguished graduate of the Squadron Officer School, and has attended the Air Command and Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College, Air War College, Carnegie Mellon University and John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Bro. Robert has served as a point man on Capitol Hill for the President's ICBM Modernization Program; formulated revolutionary changes to nuclear war plan structure and targeting with approval from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense; and managed the $45-billion Air Force space program through the corporate resources allocation process. In his most recent post, as Deputy Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, he helped provide the President and Secretary of Defense with a broad range of strategic capabilities and options for the joint warfighter through mission areas, including space operations, integrated missile defense, computer network operations and global strike.
His major awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Bro. Robert credits his father, Bro. Claude E. Kehler, Jr., a 58- year member of Shamokin Lodge No. 255, with igniting his interest in the military.
"His view on military service and community service really inspired me to believe it was the noble thing to do," Bro. Robert said. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him." Bro. Claude served four years in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of Captain. In World War II, he received orders from Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., to relocate 143 German prisoners and, later, return them to Germany. At his son's promotion ceremony, he pinned the fourth star on Bro. Robert's hat.
"He earned his way; he always loved to study. I'm very, very proud of him," Bro. Claude said. "Sometimes when I see him, I salute him. He always says, 'You don't have to do that, dad.'"
Bro. Claude worked as a city councilman and public safety director in Shamokin, Pa., and is the namesake for the Claude E. Kehler Community Park in Shamokin. He was actively involved with the local fire company, serving as fire commissioner for 36 years, and was recently honored for 50 years of service to Rescue Fire Engine & Hose Co. #3.
He helped implement many changes and advances in firefighting and fire prevention, including organizing the first-ever mutual aid fire fighting agreements between Shamokin and surrounding communities and establishing the Regional Area Police Information Dispatch (RAPID) system, covering 60,000 residents. His work inspired Robert to join fire companies in the different cities he has called home, including Washington, D.C.
Bro. Claude, a resident of the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown for four years, has further influenced his son by encouraging him to join the Masonic fraternity. In 2004, Bro. Robert was raised, along with his brother-in-law, Steve Palmer, who is married to Bro. Claude's daughter, Carol Rabe Palmer. Bro. Robert now resides in Colorado, so attending meetings and events is difficult, but he is nonetheless committed to the Craft.
"Observing Masonic activities, especially what I saw in Elizabethtown, influenced me to join the Masons," he said. "It is remarkable the way [Masons] take care of one another and others. The care of my mother was first rate."
Bro. Robert and his wife, Marjorie, have two sons, Matt and Jared. He likes to play golf and the guitar, although he claims neither to be his forté, and ski when he finds the time.
PFC Ken Henry moved to the Masonic Children's Home in 2004 after his home life grew unstable and it began affecting his school performance. After his arrival in Elizabethtown, Bro. Ken's grades went from C's and D's to A's and B's. In 2006, he graduated from the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center with a plumbing certification and enlisted in the U.S. Army.
"I wanted to serve my country," Bro. Ken said. "I felt like I needed discipline, and I wasn't quite ready for college." Deployed to Iraq last May, he is benefiting from the many advances of Bro. Robert's satellite commands, especially in remote parts of the country.
"Space systems are a critical piece of the joint war fighting team," Bro. Robert said. "I feel a direct connection to what [Bro. Ken] does everyday and spend a lot of time worrying about what he, his fellow soldiers, Airmen and Marines need."
Bro. Ken's unit has been conducting air assault missions, which involve roping out of helicopters to the middle of fields in the dark of night; foot patrols; traffic control points; and various relief missions to deliver food, toys and medical supplies to citizens.
"Being in the Army has made me not take as many things for granted," he said. "It let me see that in countries such as Iraq, living isn't easy. I've learned to overcome things that I wouldn't be able to before, and handle a great deal of stress and responsibility in fastacting situations."
In 2005, he became a Mason to give back to the organization that has afforded him so many opportunities. "It is my hope by being a Mason, I can re-give the kindness that I was given to someone else who needs it," Bro. Ken said. "It has shown me the bigger picture about life in general; that it is not always about one's self, but about others and taking time out for those people who are less fortunate."
Residents and staff of the Masonic Village, as well as lodge brothers, have sent care packages and notes Bro. Henry's way, and he is very grateful for everyone who has taken time and effort to support him. Time in the desert has allowed him a chance to reflect on many facets of his life.
"In many letters, people have started using the term 'hero' to describe me due to what choice I made and the current job I hold," Bro. Ken said in one recent thank you letter. "I am not a hero, I only do my job. The real heroes are the Masonic Children's Home, for they do so much with so little. They take in the unwanted, abused and uncared for, and give them a place to call home. They are rearing tomorrow's leaders, artists, CEO's and presidents - all out of the kindness of their hearts, exhausting all their efforts to take care of these kids. I am very thankful to be a part of that family. It has shown me nothing but love and kindness, from my lodge brothers, to the Children's Home, to the staff. I would not be here today if it were not for those who took a chance on an 18-year-old with a chip on his shoulder and a lot of potential."
Bro. Ken will tentatively return for a visit in January, and is expected to complete his current tour in Iraq in May. He has one year left in the Army, and is waiting to see what the future holds in store for him. College is in his plans, with the hopes of being an officer, following a similar path as Bro. Robert Kehler.
The commitment and dedication of a soldier and a brother requires them to "stay the course with unwavering devotion," Bro. Ken said. There's a chance he and Bro. Robert will meet one day at a lodge meeting, and albeit strangers, find they have chosen similar directions in life. Bro. Ken and Bro. Robert are both outstanding examples of selfless sacrifice and devotion to one another, their country and mankind.
They have dedicated their lives to "Protecting Our Heritage for Future Generations," which is only possible when we are willing to "Earn it Again."
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