A US military veteran of World War II has died from the coronavirus, over a century after his twin brother died in the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Philip Kahn, 100, died at his home in Long Island last week, with his doctor saying tests showed he had contracted COVID-19.
“He watched the news, he was completely aware of the pandemic. When he started coughing, he knew he might have it, and he knew the irony of what was going on,” Warren Zysman, one of Kahn’s grandsons, told the New York Times.
“And he would say, ‘Warren my boy, I told you history always repeats itself. We could have been much better prepared for this,” Zysman added.
Kahn’s brother, Samuel, died just from the Spanish Flu just weeks after the two were born in New York City in December 1919.
“He had this level of sadness about it because, while he was born a twin, he never got to experience being a twin,” Zysman said. “He carried this void with him his entire life.”
(THREAD) #Coronavirus Update from Nat’l Cdr Oxford: One of the most devastating aspects of #Covid_19 is the harm it's inflicting on members of the Greatest Generation. Philip Kahn piloted missions to Iwo Jima & this month transferred membership from American Legion Post 160 … pic.twitter.com/bWIsNRMafW
— The American Legion (@AmericanLegion) April 24, 2020
In a separate interview with CNN, Zysman said Kahn often brought up his brother in the days before his death.
“Pretty much every holiday, every event, he would also bring up his brother Samuel,” he said.
According to Zysman, Kahn wanted a military funeral, so the cemetery where he was buried had two American soldiers perform the ceremony, while a man whose father served in the Marines during WWII played the bugle.
Kahn served during the war in the US Army Air Forces and took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima and bombing raids over Japan, as well as in aerial surveys of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the dropping of the atom bombs, the New York Times said.
He received two Bronze Stars for his service.
“My parents taught us to follow and cherish our Jewish faith and to love and be loyal to the great country of America that had opened its doors of freedom and opportunity to them,” he said in remarks quoted by the Published Reporter ahead of his 100 birthday.
Kahn, the son of immigrants from Poland, is survived by a daughter, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.