Royal J. Klein
DOB: November 11, 1915
DOD: March 21, 1979
Cemetery Location: A 741
Branch: U.S. Army
Service Dates: 1938-1953
Mildred B. Klein
DOB: August 18, 1919
DOD: June 13, 2004
Cemetery Location: A 741
After graduating from Stratford (WI) High School in 1933, Royal struggled to find work during the Great Depression. He worked for his bootlegging uncle for a brief time, running numbers between Elkhart Lake and Chicago for Al Capone, and did a stint riding the rails, but soon decided there was a better way of making his way in the world. In 1936 he took a job at a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp near Black River Falls as a Sawyer. It was there that he met Mildred Christenson of Black River Falls at a Saturday evening dance in town.
On June 20, 1938, he enlisted in the United States Army, and served for two years in Hawaii in the Air Defense Artillery with a 90 mm gun battery. He returned to the States in November of 1941, missing the attack on Pearl Harbor by just days. By the summer of 1942, he had attained the rank of Sergeant, was accepted to Officer Candidate School and commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery on November 5, 1942. He was assigned to the 476th AAA AW Battalion, and served in the positions of Battery Executive Officer and Battery Commander during operations against the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre. The 476th AAA Bn was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for operations during the Battle of Biak (Schouton Islands New Guinea) and was credited with destroying 23 Japanese planes and damaging one more. Royal received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star (Valor) for his service at Biak on 30 May 1944. The 476th AAA Bn also served in the Philippines Campaign of 1944-45.
On July 3, 1942, Royal and Mildred were married in Las Vegas, Nevada, just prior to his attending OCS. Prior to their marriage, Mildred had been staying with her cousin in Michigan, working in the Quartermaster Department at Fort Custer near Battle Creek. Royal and Mildred settled in Milwaukee after the War, and he went to work for the Milwaukee Transport Company, first as a streetcar operator, later as a bus driver. During the 1949 Green Bay Packers football season, he was tasked with driving the Team Bus between Green Bay and the Stadium at State Fair Park in Milwaukee. Coach Curley Lambeau always appreciated his efforts to make the team comfortable on those long bus rides. A son, John, was born to Royal and Mildred in December, 1950.
On May 2, 1951, Royal was recalled to Active Duty with the rank of Captain by President Truman to serve in the Korean Conflict. He was assigned as Battery Commander in the 502nd AAA Bn, 2nd Infantry Division, and participated in many of the bloody battles of the 1951-52. He was released from active duty on February 21, 1953.
Royal returned to Mildred and Milwaukee and his job with the Transport Company. A daughter, Terry, was born in February 1957. Royal was active in the VFW and American Legion for many years, and loved to spend time with his fellow veterans. Always outgoing, he could always be counted on for a joke and a laugh, and he always loved his Green Bay Packers!
Mildred worked for some time as a Teacher’s Aide to special needs children, and in later years enjoyed writing and traveling.
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