Tribute to Major Dean Klendra

(Frank) And we’re back. Aren’t you excited? (Deb) I know I am. (Frank) So anyway, well we do have some good stories today and one that we’re going – that’s coming up is one that — (Deb) It’s kind of bitter sweet. (Frank) Yes, it’s bitter sweet. So she’s going to be doing the story. Anyway, she’ll give you a little bit of background. (Deb) Major Dean Klenda, who was shot down in Vietnam 51 years ago. He was missing, they have all these official designations, they did not recover him until recently, recovered his remains. So he has been brought back to Kansas and laid to rest and that’s the story. Incredibly bitter sweet. And as we’ve talked before on this show and I’ve talked in other venues, we’re the Soldiers State. And so we’ve got a lot of veterans’ stories coming up for you this Fall. And December will mark the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Did you know the first man to shoot down a plane? (Frank) Was from Kansas. (Deb) Was from Kansas. So that’s a story that we’re going to feature in the first week in December, and we invite you to share your stories with us. You can find us on Facebook, you can send us an email and we’ll put those addresses on our screen. Or you can find them on our website. If you’d like to share the story of your particular veteran with us, we’d love to hear them and love to share them with our viewers. (Frank) So a story coming up about the hero from Marion, Kansas. (Deb) The Defense Department has announced that Air Force Maj. Dean A. Klenda, 25, of Marion, Kansas, was buried Sept. 17 in Pilsen. Fifty-one years earlier, on Sept. 17, 1965, Major Klenda was assigned to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron as the pilot of an F-105D Thunderchief that was attacking enemy targets in Son La Province, Vietnam. During Major Klenda’s mission, his aircraft was struck by enemy fire causing him to eject from the Thunderchief. He failed to separate from his ejection seat before it impacted the ground. Major Klenda was reported as missing in action; however, a military review board later amended his status to dead, body not recovered. Between 1993 and 1999, multiple joint U.S./Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams conducted investigations of the crash site. The teams identified the site that was believed to be where Major Klenda’s ejection seat impacted the ground. No remains were recovered at that time. On Nov. 10, 2011, another joint team re-investigated the loss and interviewed a Vietnamese national who claimed to have found remains at the site in 1996. He told the team that he discarded the remains in a field five kilometers away from the crash site. In November 2014, a joint team excavated the site described by the Vietnamese national and recovered human remains. In the identification of Major Klenda, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and dental comparisons, including isotopic analysis, which matched his records. The support from the government of Vietnam was vital to the success of this recovery. Today there are 1,618 American servicemen and civilians that are still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. We here at AGam send our kindest thoughts to Major Klenda’s loved ones.

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