The Electrical Worker online
December 2014

President Hill Honors WWII Vet,
77-Year Member
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Jimmy Kice has seen the best and the worst.

The 95-year-old World War II Army veteran endured vicious combat in the South Pacific from 1941 until the end of the war. He didn't talk about the war for many years. But his son, Jim, says his father recently recalled seeing 200 Wisconsin National Guard troops arrive at the war front. Only 10 or 15 returned home.

Just as vividly, Kice, a journeyman inside wireman who has been paying dues for 77 years, recalls the rewards that came from his membership in Kansas City, Mo., Local 124. "I worked as a general foreman on missile silos and helped build half the buildings in downtown," he says. "I loved being an electrician and the challenge of figuring out what needed to be done on the job."

On Oct. 7, Kice, accompanied by his son Jim, arrived at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. They had boarded an "honor flight" in Kansas City, the latest visitors to the memorial sponsored by the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that has brought more than 100,000 veterans to D.C., including many IBEW members.

As Kice's bus pulled up to the memorial's entrance, dozens of supporters were there to greet him and other veterans. Some cheered. Some shook his hand and thanked him for his service. "It was wonderful," said Kice. His son said the crowds cheering veterans in the airport were remarkable. There was even a band playing.

Among those thanking Kice for his service after he arrived in the nation's capital was International President Edwin D. Hill, who brought along a 75-year pin to present to the veteran. Hill was accompanied by Senior Executive Assistants Sherilyn Wright and Brian Baker.

The IBEW has had thousands of members who fought in World War II," says Hill. "But I am at a loss for words after meeting a man who was in some of the toughest battles of the war and still takes so much pride in being an IBEW member."

Two years ago, Hill was scheduled to present Kice with his 75-year pin. But Kice had broken his hip shoveling ice.

"That's my dad," says Jim Jr., always working, still paying his dues and still showing up at every meeting of the local's retiree association. "The union has been very strong for him," he says.

"All during childhood, I went to union meetings and fundraisers. My mother died when I was young and I remember the union providing support," he says. Decent union pay and benefits, says the younger Kice, helped put him through college to become a network engineer.

Asked why he still chooses to pay union dues 77 years after joining the IBEW, Kice says, "That's a ridiculous question."



Jimmy Kice, 95, was honored at the World War II memorial by International President Edwin D. Hill, who presented him with his 75-year pin.


Local 124 retiree Jimmy Kice