Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Midway Naval Aviator in Hampton Roads

I had the honor to spend the past weekend interviewing Captain N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, a veteran of the Battle of Midway and recipient of the Navy Cross for his actions in that battle. At age 96 (and a half, as he always tells people), Kleiss is filled with stories of his time in the Navy. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1938 and was stationed in Norfolk for a couple years before being sent to the West Coast prior to the start of World War II. Post-war, the Navy sent him again to Norfolk, this time to COMAIRLANT (now COMNAVAIRLANT), or Commander Air Forces Atlantic Fleet. Below is a photograph of the staff of COMAIRLANT in 1955 that Kleiss shared. 

The staff of COMAIRLANT, Naval Air Station Norfolk, in 1955.
Kleiss is in the front row, fifth man from the right (the one with the cocky smile on his face!). At the time of this photograph, Kleiss held the rank of commander. He would retire from the Navy in 1962 as a captain. Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some more of the stories I've learned from Kleiss during our interviews.  Read about his experiences at the Battle of Midway here.

Captain Jack Kleiss in his retirement photo, March 31, 1962.

1 comment:

Lee Roberts said...

Upon entering my house I turned on CNN and saw that my High School Science Teacher Jack Kleiss, (aka Dusty) has died at the age of 100. Mr. Kleiss turned 100 last month on March 7th and was the last surviving dive bomber from the battle of Midway.

Mr. Kleiss was a wonderful teacher who lived and taught in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and was the father of a wonderful daughter Jill. I had the good fortune to know Jill, visit her home and perform in a musical group with her.

Mr. Kleiss had a son Albert who was killed in an accident while conducting a science experiment. He had just graduated high school at the time.

Mr. Kleiss never spoke of his wartime experiences except as they pertained to the effects of G force on the human body experienced personally by him. He was not a braggart. Quite the opposite. He was a man of grace, charm, intellect and warmth.

When I saw the CNN story I was devastated and still am. My most heartfelt condolences go out to his family. He was one of a kind, and they don't make them like Jack Kleiss anymore.

Robert Hawvermale
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia