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Omaha Navy veteran spreads faith and patriotism through wood crafted Americana

“I really call this kind of a ministry, a personal ministry.”
Posted at 7:14 PM, Sep 12, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An Omaha man who fought for our freedoms and supported our veterans is now using his hands to share his love for our country and in his faith.

“I really call this kind of a ministry, a personal ministry,” Navy Veteran Bob Hennings said.

A personal ministry that Hennings doesn’t claim to be an expert in.

“I don’t know a lot about woodworking — I’m learning along the way,” he said with a laugh.

For still learning, his work is remarkable.

(WATCH VIDEO ABOVE).

Hennings began crafting wooden American flags and crosses in 2017 — after a life dedicated to federal service.

A few years after serving in the Navy, he accepted a vocational rehabilitation services position with the US Department of Veteran Affairs. He counseled disabled veterans returning to civilian life.

“I think it was over 12,000 veterans that I individually worked with,” he added.

He did that for 20 years, before transitioning to a position with the US Department of Homeland Security, working on improving the immigration processes across the country for 18 years.

Once he was preparing to retire, he decided to give something new a try.

“This is the very first one I made in 2017 and I decided I would never sell that one,” he shared.

He says the original flag still hanging on the wall in his work shed at his home is to remind him to remain humble. Since he created that first wooden flag the quality of the product has continued to evolve.

“I’m more particular of my measurements, more particular of the finish, the sanding,” he listed. “I was using only oak then now I’m using Brazilian cherry, oak and maple — and I’m staining rather than painting.”

“A lot of people will take pine and use a propane torch and burn the grain. I don’t burn flags. I just don’t believe in it. Never have, never will.”

The type of products he crafts is also evolving. Hennings has learned to craft flags that appear to be draped or are waving in the wind. The waving flag takes 14 hours to complete.

“People come up and touch it because they think it’s metal when they see it from a distance,” Hennings said.

His newest creation is a folded flag.

“My wife is the creative person in this family, so she came up with this idea for the folded flag.”

Bob says Judy, his wife of 53 years, has put over 36,000 stars on the flags and crosses he has crafted.

“She’s a big part of this team,” he said with a smile.

The team of two has sold hundreds of flags and nearly 1,500 patriotic crosses. Those sales come almost exclusively at craft shows around the metro.

Hennings says that’s just how he likes it and the craft shows are his favorite things about the business.

He says it gives him an opportunity to spread patriotism and The Gospel — two things he holds very close to his heart.

“I just enjoy doing it. And I really enjoy the pleasure that it brings to people who buy them,” he said. “It just really warms my heart.”

Hennings is also church liaison at Omaha’s Covenant Presbyterian Church where he oversees a newly formed boys troop called Trail Life for Boys. On top of that, he visits the Douglas County Department of Corrections every Tuesday with the church pastor to share The Gospel with inmates.

You can catch Hennings and his work at any of his three remaining craft shows:

October 14Clarinda Craft Carnival

November 19DAV Market

December 19-20Winter Wonderland, Oakview Vendor & Craft Show

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