Kenneth Leroy Kluger, 90, passed away peacefully in his home on July 16, 2012 in Bellaire, Texas. Ken was born in Swea, Kossuth County, Iowa on October 30, 1921 to Curtis Samuel Kluger of Searsboro, Iowa, and Verna Theresa Anderson of Farnhamville, Iowa. He is preceded in death by his parents and brother, Donald Kluger and is survived by his wife of 43 years, Beverlyanne Forsyth, Bellaire, Texas; his sisters, H. Elaine Barlett and husband, Jack, Bluffton, South Carolina; and Dolores Elliott, Swea City, Iowa; and nieces and nephews, Jeff Steffens, Indiana; Candace Person, Phoenix, Arizona; Colleen Holm and husband Cliff, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Tracy Elliott and wife Mary Ann, Bancroft, Iowa.
Born in Kossuth County in northern Iowa, Ken grew up in the small town of Swea, located a few "country" miles from the Minnesota state border. He spent his entire youth in Swea and attended Swea City High School from September 1935 to when he graduated on May 18, 1939. Ken studied algebra, plane geometry, physics, biology and general science; he also enjoyed medieval and modern history, as well as business training, bookkeeping, typewriting and manual training. Ken worked at gasoline stations during his teen years and he was a good mechanic. His father, Curtis, was a proprietor of a radio shop in Swea when the 1940 Census was taken; Ken was 18 years old and he worked as a "helper" in his father's shop. Verna, his mother tended the household and was busy raising Ken's sisters, Elaine and Dolores.
During WW II, Ken was inducted into the United States Army on August 25, 1942 and entered active duty service on September 9, 1942 in Camp Dodge, Iowa. Ken began his Army basic training on September 21, 1942 in Camp Roberts, California and graduated three months later on December 19, 1942. During his initial training period, Ken's occupational specialty was Clerk Typist. However, in early 1943 he began training as an infantryman in Camp Carson, Colorado.
Ken was first assigned to the 71st Light Division but was later transferred to the 4th Infantry Division, nicknamed the "Ivy Division." His division completed its training in 1943 in the United States. The 4th was alerted for overseas movement and staged at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, beginning January 4, 1944. On January 18 the division moved to the New York Port of Embarkation and departed soon thereafter . The 4th Infantry Division set sail and arrived in England on January 26, 1944.
In England, Ken's division continued training for the Normandy Invasion. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Ken landed on Utah Beach with the 22nd Infantry Regiment and assaulted the German-held positions. He fought in Normandy through July until the Allies finally succeeded in breaking out of Normandy and racing across France to liberate Paris. During the fighting in the St. Lo area, Ken was wounded for the first time. After Paris, the 4th then moved into Belgium through Houffalize and again Ken was in heavy combat when the division attacked the Siegfried Line on September 14. The division made several penetrations but slow progress continued into Germany into October. By November 6 the Battle of Hurtgen Forest had begun and the 4th Infantry Division was engaged in continuous and protracted fighting until early December. From mid-September until he was seriously wounded on August 22, 1944, Ken had been in intense ground combat operations for 69 continuous days. Because of the serious nature of his wounds, Ken was flown to England for treatment and recovery. After months of recovery, Ken would leave England, return to the European Theatre and see Germany surrender to the Allied Forces on May 8, 1945 in Rheims, France.
Upon his discharge from the Army on November 5, 1945 in Etampes, France, 35 miles south of Paris, Ken remained in Europe for 20 years. He learned to speak French and German and travelled extensively. He worked in various U.S. Civil Service positions in France and also for German construction companies before returning to the United States in 1965. In Houston, Ken was employed at the Houston Space Center and worked in NASA's computer inventory control division until he retired on June 6, 1990-the 46th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. Ken was an ardent coin and stamp collector
Ken's military medals include the Bronze Star Medal for exemplary conduct during the Normandy Campaign; the Purple Heart Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster for wounds received in St. Lo, France during the Northern France Campaign and during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in Germany during the Rhineland Campaign. As an infantryman, Ken earned the prestigious Combat Infantryman Badge; the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to the entire 22nd Infantry Regiment for extraordinary heroism in action during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, the longest battle on German ground during World War II, and also the longest single battle the U.S. Army has ever fought.
Ken also received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars for the Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland Campaigns; the American Campaign Medal for military service within the continental United States; the World War II Victory Medal, commemorating military service during World War II; and the Army Good Conduct Medal, one of the oldest military awards of the United States military.
Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, July 23, at Earthman Bellaire Funeral Home, 6700 Ferris, Bellaire, TX. www.earthmanbellaire.com 713-667-6505. Funeral services with military honors will be held Tuesday, July 24, at 12:30 p.m. at Houston National Cemetery pavilion, 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston, TX.