Mother and son taking trip to DC in memory of someone who can’t

May 13, 2018, 4:43 PM | Updated: 11:28 pm

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — For Audrey Kent, some memories never fade.

“I was working at LDS Hospital, and they had a lot of signs saying they needed nurses and doctors,” she said. “So I thought, ‘Well, I should sign up.'”

That’s how she spent three entire years working as a nurse in a San Francisco operating room, right through the height of World War II — all on her very first trip out of Utah.

“They took care of all the soldiers from the South Pacific that would come in, and we would try to get them as well as possible,” said Kent. “Then we’d put them on a train and take them back east, closer to their homes.”

She met her husband while working at the hospital, which was a bit of a surprise to her family.

“He worked in surgery, same as I did,” Kent said with a smile. ” I just had to send them a letter, to tell them I was getting married. My mother and sisters came out to be at the wedding.”

After the war, her small family began to grow — and Audrey shares a special bond with one of her children.

“These are some of the landing zones,” said Audrey’s son Mike Kent, gesturing to a photo in a small album. “That’s a Huey right there, outside of my door.”

For Audrey, the country eventually came calling again. Mike was sent to Vietnam, where he spent 11 long months serving as a door gunner in a helicopter.

“We did everything,” he said. “We inserted the troops, we resupplied them, did reconaissance for them, took them their mail, their meals — you name it, we did it.”

But Mike wasn’t the only one of Audrey’s sons who served in Vietnam. Doug Kent enlisted six months before Mike was drafted. Doug was stationed at a base, repairing helicopters — Mike was supposed to join him.

“You land, you go into a processing center,” Mike said. “I was trying to explain that I was supposed to go be with him, but it took them 11 days to find me. He was killed the same day I got there.”

“They were testing out a helicopter,” said Audrey. Something happened, and it crashed — exploded. Someone came to our door, a service person, and told us he had crashed, and was declared missing in action. And then the next day, we had another man come, and said that it was confirmed that he was killed.”

“The chaplain sent for me, and told me,” Mike said. “I was supposed to have the dangerous job.”

It’s been decades — but they’ve never forgotten that day. Mike still talks about exchanging letters with his brother, and the stack of undelivered mail the family received after his death.

To help remember Doug, Audrey’s made a cross stitch of his section of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They’ve seen pictures, spoken to those who’ve visited, and gone to see traveling replicas — but neither she nor Mike have actually been able to make the trip to see the names on the memorial in person.

But that’s about to change. Mother and son are heading to Washington, DC together, as part of the Utah Honor Flight. The program provides free trips to veterans, to see the memorials built in their honor. Their trip, sponsored by the BYU College of Nursing, is scheduled for next month.

“I’d seen it on television, I was hoping I could participate in it,” Audrey said. “But I never got around to doing anything about it. So Michael’s friend got an application, and we filled it out, and they accepted us.”

“I just want to see all the memorials,” Mike said. “The Unknown Soldier, I want to see that really bad.”

But there’s one thing they both want to see more than anything.

“I want to see my brother’s name on the wall,” Mike said.

Mother and son hope to learn for themselves that their memories aren’t the only place where Doug Kent’s name will never fade.

“Oh, I’m thrilled,” said Audrey. “I’m excited. You know, I feel close to him all the time anyway.”

Audrey Kent, shown in her uniform during WWII. (April 8, 2018)

Items from Mike Kent’s service during Vietnam are shown at his home in Pleasant Grove. (April 8, 2018)

Mike Kent is seen in a helicopter in Vietnam. (Kent family photo)

A photo of Doug Kent during his service in Vietnam. (Kent family photo)

Doug Kent, during his service in Vietnam. (Kent family photo)

Audrey Kent gestures towards a cross stitch she made, showing the name of her son, Doug Kent, on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. (April 8, 2018)

Mike Kent flips through an album of photos he took in Vietnam. (April 8, 2018)

Audrey Kent looks at photos of her time in the service. (April 8, 2018)

Mike Kent points to a photo he took in Vietnam. (April 8, 2018)

Photos taken by Mike Kent in Vietnam are seen in a photo album. (April 8, 2018)

The World War II Memorial is one of the sites Audrey and Mike Kent plan to see as part of the Utah Honor Flight.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the one place Audrey and Mike Kent want to see more than any other on their trip to Washington, DC.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was completed in 1982.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial lists the names of 58,318 members of the United States military who died in Vietnam.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is seen in Washington, DC in 2015.


KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

New Harmony Fire...

Cimaron Neugebauer

Fast-acting fire crews contain New Harmony fire in southern Utah

A human-caused wildfire in southern Utah is now contained thanks to a quick response from air and ground resources, says a fire official.

22 hours ago

Raven is a trained service dog...

Erin Cox

Service animal removed from grocery store. Does the ADA allow that?

A Utah woman says her normal trip to Harmons didn't go as planned and the store broke the law by turning away her service animal.

22 hours ago

Mormon cricket...

Shara Park

Millions of Mormon crickets invade Elko, NV

Millions of Mormon crickets have descended on six counties in Nevada creating a bug-infested nightmare for many residents. 

22 hours ago

Sarah Burgess waves a crosswalk safety flag...

Shelby Lofton

Pedestrian crossing flags ‘disappearing at alarming rate’

Orange pedestrian flags at some of Salt Lake City's intersections are disappearing.

22 hours ago

Jacob Nilson, 24, of St. George is lucky to survive after crashing his motorcycle on a notorious se...

Ladd Egan

‘This corner is notorious:’ Fire chiefs warn motorcyclists about section of Gunlock Road

Fire chiefs in southern Utah are warning about a dangerous stretch of road that’s being called “Motorcycle Rock” because of the number of accidents.

22 hours ago

Jazz Bear golf tournament...

Katija Stjepovic

Golf tournament recruits mentors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

Every year dozens of people hit the links to help kids cope with everyday struggles through the GOLF FORE KIDS’ SAKE! tournament.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of happy boy playing and splashing water in the swimming pool...

Get Out Pass

Family Fun Activities in Utah You Have to Try This Summer

These family fun activities will entertain you all summer, so if you ever feel stuck in a rut wondering what to do, refer to this guide!

Woman IT specialist in elegant suit working on notebook computer in data center next to server rack...

Les Olson

Your Complete Guide to Outsourcing IT Services

This guide covers everything you need to know about the different benefits of outsourcing IT services to meet your small business needs.

diverse group of friends dance outside under string lights...

Lighting Design

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Lighting

Read for the most frequently asked questions about outdoor lighting to help narrow the search for your home.

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

Mother and son taking trip to DC in memory of someone who can’t