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Huron man returns for D-Day+70

Tom Jackson • Jun 4, 2014 at 8:28 AM



Before he was a longtime Huron educator, Richard "Dick" Klein, 91, was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne,  which participated in the D-Day invasion of France on June 6, 1944, during World War II.

He doesn't like to talk about himself, says his wife, June Klein, 89. 

But it may be hard for Klein to avoid the spotlight much longer. He's part of a group of veterans, currently in Europe for the 70th anniversary of the invasion, who will be featured on national TV when NBC broadcasts a Brian Williams D-Day news special at 8 p.m. Friday.

June Klein doesn't know if her husband will be on TV.

"It's possible. They are going to interview some of them," she said.

The Greatest Generations Foundation paid to fly Klein and other veterans to France for the commemoration. She said her husband has his cell phone with him but was told not to use it in Europe for security reasons.

Various heads of state are participating in the commemoration of the D-Day invasion, including President Barack Obama.

Klein has returned to Europe more than once, most recently in February, when he and June brought his daughter, Terri Herzog, and son-in-law along for a trip. 

The Normandy invasion by American, British and Canadian troops began the liberation of France and was a final major blow to Adolf Hitler's Nazi empire. 

Storming the beaches of northern France in the face of German guns was a dangerous enterprise. 

But what Klein and other paratroopers in the American 101st and 82nd airborne divisions did was arguably even more daring. Before the troops landed on the beach, Klein and other paratroopers parachuted at night into areas of France a short distance behind the beaches.

Klein survived the battles in Normandy and wound up fighting also in Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland. He was wounded in the battle of Bastogne, in Belgium, where paratroopers were surrounded by German troops during the Battle of the Bulge but refused to surrender. A German sniper killed Klein's best friend.

Klein was born and raised in Huron.

"He didn't wait to be drafted. If you are drafted, you go where the government tells you to go. If you enlist, you have your pick," Mrs. Klein said.

He and June, married now for 64 years, met at a 1945 Ohio State-Michigan football game. The best man at their wedding was the late Jim Campbell, longtime general manager and president of the Detroit Tigers.

Klein was an educator in Huron for 45 years, serving as a teacher, vice principal, principal, coach and athletic director.

A schedule posted on the White House website says that the president, currently in Europe, will leave Poland for France on Thursday. After a private dinner in Paris Thursday night with that country's president, Obama will spend much of his day Friday at D-Day related events in Normandy.

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