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Honor Flight celebrates 100th birthday of local WWII veteran

Posted: 9:33 AM, Dec 14, 2017
Updated: 2017-12-14 20:34:05Z

Honor Flight will be celebrating the 100th birthday of a local World War II veteran on Thursday.

Born on Dec. 25, 1917 in Porterville, Leonard Francis moved to Weedpatch, Calif. with his family where he grew up with his seven brothers and sisters.

Francis attended Kern County Union High School, now BHS, where he met his wife Mary Katherine Brubaker.

They were married in 1941 and had three children: two boys and one daughter. They have five grandchildren and recently celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary. Mary Katherine passed away in May.

Francis was drafted into the Navy on April 19, 1945. He went through basic training in San Diego and was assigned to the Destroyer, USS Ludlow as a Gunners Mate.

The primary purpose of the USS Ludlow was to escort carriers in the South Pacific where they docked at many islands.

After returning home Francis worked for Coca-Cola, Advance Beverage and he and Mary Katherine owned the restaurant at DiGeorgio Farms for a while.

He remained active throughout his life and played fast-pitch softball on a couple of teams in the central valley.