Klema receives community honor from DAR
Richard Klema was awarded the Community Service award from the Alta Mira Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution during the annual Bells Across American event last month.
Klema was born in Hell Creek, Kansas. Growing up and working with his parents in the grocery business, Klema was in the second drafted two years after the start of WWII in 1941. He was stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky with less then three months to go for his release, the day that changed so many lives across our country dawned. Sunday December 7, 1941.
With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Klema’s year became almost four years of service. On June 1st 1942, “G” Company of the 6th Armored Infantry Regiment sailed out of New York, bound for Ireland. While pushing through resistance at Faid Pass, 31 soldiers were captured by the Germans and after being transported by truck and train ended up in Moosburg, Germany. Prisoner #90223 became a resident of Stalag VII-A.
Three years to the day, June 1, 1945, after stepping on the ship in New York, Technician 5th grade Klema was allowed to board a boat in France headed to the United States. After over two and ½ years spent in three different Prisoner of War camps, Richard Klema was coming home.
He went back to the grocery business, before going to work for the U.S. Air Force as a meat cutter in the commissary.
He was married to his sweetheart, Neva Klema for 62 years, before she passed away. They had one daughter, Nancy Dye, and many friends that are family, and think of him as a father.
Being a great story teller to the enjoyment of the family, with the families urging, he chose to give back to his country by sharing his experiences.
The award was not given because he was a POW. The community service award is because Klema has spent the last 30 years of his life making sure people, especially young people learn not only his story, but that of so many of our courageous veterans. . Klema has spent countless hours, going to schools and various community events in several different cities.
He talks about his story and the war that transformed our nation. He talks of John Klema who joined the Army in hopes of rescuing his older brother from being a POW.
Along with visiting schools elementary to high school, he has written a book with details of a life most of us can not begin to imagine.
When students ask, “Would you go again”? His response is, “I know they would not take me because of my age, but I would go so you young people would not have to go. You young people have not had a chance to live your life; I have had a long life and I would risk my life for yours. You are the cream of the crop.”