WWII vet and preschooler form unlikely friendship

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FARMINGTON, Minn. – Erling Kindem and Emmett Rychner are best buds. Erling is 89-years old and Emmett is three.

For nearly 10 years, Bryan and Anika Rychner had little interaction with the elderly man next door, a World War II veteran who flew combat missions in Europe. That all changed last year when 3-year-old Emmett paid Erling a visit and they bonded over tomatoes, according to a report from KARE.

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Their friendship grew over the next few months as they spent time racing lawn mowers, playing croquet and fixing bicycles.

Emmett’s mother wondered if their friendship would survive the harsh Minnesota winter.

“I was in the kitchen and I heard the snow blower going, sounds like Erling is really close to the house,” she told KARE. “I opened the window and he was snow blowing a path from his back door to our back door.”

Emmett’s parents recently decided they would put their house up for sale as they search for a home that will suit their growing family. A “sold” sign soon followed the decision. However, a bigger home means Emmett must move away from Erling.

As it turns out, Erling also had some big news. With his 90th birthday quickly approaching, his children convinced him to leave his home and move with his ailing wife into a senior apartment.

“It’s tough… when you think about it,” Erling told KARE, his voice cracking.

But for now, the tearful goodbyes will have to wait. Erling and Emmett have some bicycles to repair.

Read more: KARE


  • Renee Finster

    Beautiful!! I love these salty ole Veterans, they are full of so much worldly experiences, invaluable! What a lucky family to have Erling to give their son such amazing friendship. Nope, they will never have a neighbor/friend that is so perfect!! Broke my heart hearing Emmet say “I love him”, knowing they will part all to soon…

  • Robbie

    A child will seek out someone or something to occupy their time. Same can be said for the elderly. In this case, they both serve each others needs. A great story indeed. Nice heartfelt reply to Renee.

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