A 100-year-old WWII veteran died of Covid-19. His twin brother died 100 years earlier in the flu pandemic

A 100-year-old World War II veteran who died from Covid-19 lost a twin brother to the 1918 pandemic a century earlier, his grandson said.Philip Kahn i...

Posted: Apr 23, 2020 10:18 AM

A 100-year-old World War II veteran who died from Covid-19 lost a twin brother to the 1918 pandemic a century earlier, his grandson said.

Philip Kahn is the oldest veteran in Nassau County, New York, according to his family, and had been fearful of another pandemic happening in his lifetime, his grandson, Warren Zysman, told CNN.

"It was something he brought up quite frequently," Zysman said. "I would have conversations with him, he would say to me, 'I told you history repeats itself, 100 years is not that long of a period of time.'"

Kahn and his twin brother, Samuel, were born on December 5, 1919. His brother died weeks later, his grandson said.

The 1918 influenza pandemic, caused by a virus previously known as the "Spanish flu," killed and estimate of more than 50 million people globally and about 675,000 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of April 22, there are more than 46,000 Covid-19 deaths in the United States and about 19,000 deaths in New York State, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally.

Kahn was a sergeant in the US Army Air Force during WWII, Zysman said, and acted as an engineer and co-pilot, keeping war planes fueled. He received two Bronze Battle Stars for his service in WWII, his grandson said. After the war, he worked as an electrical foreman to help build the World Trade Center, Zysman said. In Long Island, Kahn lived on his own and walked one to two miles a day, Zysman said.

He was very aware of what was happening with coronavirus since he watched the news all the time, and in the last days before his death on April 17, Kahn experienced coughing and respiratory symptoms of the virus, his grandson said.

Kahn knew that there was a possibility that he could have contracted the coronavirus.

"He talked about his brother a lot in the last few days," Zysman said. The 100-year-old veteran received a coronavirus test, but his family did not get the results until after Kahn passed away.

"He had always wanted a large military funeral, but we weren't able to provide that to him," Zysman said.

The cemetery arranged for two people in the armed forces to perform a military ceremony, and a man whose father was a Marine during WWII played the bugle at Kahn's funeral from a distance, Kahn's grandson said.

"He volunteered because the Air Force protected the Marines by providing cover for them and he felt it was a honor to do this for my grandpa," Zysman said.

Sampson Lester Friedman, Khan's friend who served with him during WWII in the Army Air Force, attended the funeral and gave a tribute to Kahn, which Zysman recorded on video and provided to CNN.

"[There was] something about him that was very very special," Friedman said at the funeral. "On our airplane, he was an engineer, and he was the hardest working guy aboard that airplane."

Over the century that followed his brother's death, Kahn kept the memory of his brother alive.

"Pretty much every holiday, every event, he would also bring up his brother Samuel," Zysman said. "It clearly made a hole in his heart that he never got to meet his twin, and that his twin died a few weeks after birth."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
Bolivar4837133
Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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