Commonwealth of Kentucky
Office of Senator Chris McDaniel

For Immediate Release
May 18, 2018

Contact: Jena Scott

[email protected]

100 Year-Old WWII Bomber Pilot Chosen as Grand Marshall for Park Hills Memorial Day Parade

State Senator Chris McDaniel Urges Attendance to Witness Historic Reunion

John H. Klette, a 100 year-old World War II and Korean War veteran, will be recognized as Grand Marshall at the Park Hills Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 28. A former U.S. Air Force pilot and Kentucky native, Mr. Klette was born in Park Hills in 1917. A rarity to hear the personal stories of a two-war veteran, Senator Chris McDaniel encourages all to attend this special event.

The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, John Klette quickly enlisted and was accepted into the US Army Air Corps Reserves. In 1943, John was called to active duty and trained as a B-24 and B-17 bomber pilot. John flew 51 WWII B-17 combat missions from the US air base in Foggia, Italy. Among his multiple combat awards, John was awarded the Silver Star for a mission to destroy factories in the suburbs of Vienna, Austria. John’s heavily damaged B-17 aircraft was the only returning aircraft from his squadron that returned to Foggia. Following WWII, John was recalled to active U.S. Air Force duty in 1951. During the Korean War, John flew 50 Air/Sea Rescue Missions piloting the SA-16 and the C-47 before returning home in the winter of 1952.

This Memorial Day, Mr. Klette will be joined by his only surviving crew member from his mission in Italy, who will be traveling to Kentucky from Washington State. This is the first time the two have been reunited since their combat mission in Italy.

“Please join us if you are in the Park Hills or surrounding area on Memorial Day,” said Senator McDaniel. “John Klette is a true American hero who was raised in our backyard here in Senate District 23. While we reflect on the lives lost this Memorial Day, it is an honor to have Mr. Klette lead our parade as he has lived through some of the most tragic and uplifting moments in American history. Mr. Klette is a prime example of selfless American patriotism and servitude.”

The May 28 Park Hills Memorial Day parade will be held at 11:30 a.m. The parade route is from Dixie Highway to North Arlington to Old State Road to Terrace Drive to Amsterdam Road to Park Drive. A flag raising ceremony with the David Haldeman’s Stationary Marching Band at Park Drive will be held immediately following the parade.