John H. Klanke, 1924 – 2019

The ranks of our WWII veterans grow thinner by the day, and I’m saddened to report that another 1/24 Marine has gone on to the final muster.

John Henry Klanke, born 30 March 1924 in Flora, Illinois, entered the Marine Corps at the age of eighteen. Much of his military career was spent with the 4th Marine Division, starting with the Fourth Tank Battalion and continuing to the scout company of the division Special Troops. PFC Klanke served in the Marshall Islands as a scout, and in the spring of 1944 joined HQ/1/24 as a member of the intelligence section. On Saipan, he suffered a serious wound that would spell the end of his combat career.* Klanke spent the rest of the war in the US Naval Hospital in San Diego, where he received the Purple Heart.

klanke_jh_purple heart

Photo from the WWII Memorial Registry

Following his discharge, John Klanke returned to Flora where he married and raised a family. He spent most of the rest of his life in his hometown, according to his obituary: “John was a mechanic for many years employed by Kelly & Max Dye in Louisville and was also a parts manager for the Chevrolet and Ford garages in Flora. Later, he would work in the tool and die and quality control departments at Southwire in Flora before his retirement. In his spare time, he enjoyed gardening, watching hummingbirds and visiting family.” (The full obituary by Bruce Kropp is available from Southern Illinois Now.)

John Klanke passed away on 4 November 2019 and was buried in Flora’s Golden Cemetery.

Rest in peace, Mr. Klanke. Semper Fi, Marine.

* PFC Klanke’s USMC casualty card states that he suffered a slight puncture wound of the left arm, while a roster of patients aboard the USS General J. H. McRae lists him as a stretcher case with a compound fracture of the left humerus. He might have suffered both wounds; the later, however, is more likely the cause of his lengthy hospitalization.


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