KLENDA, DEAN ALBERT
Remains ID announced in 2016 - see below.
Name: Dean Albert Klenda
Branch/Rank: United States Air Force/O2
Date of Birth: 20 August 1940
Home City of Record: MANHATTAN KS
Date of Loss: 17 September 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 210800 North 1041400 East
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F105 #4247
Other Personnel in Incident:
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews and CACCF = Combined Action
Combat Casualty File. 2018
No further information available at this time.
UPDATE: June 4, 2016
AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR: The number of US personnel missing and unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War is now 1,619. Most recently accounted for is LCDR Frederick P. Crosby, USN, listed as KIA/BNR, North Vietnam, on 6/1/65. No information is yet available on his recovery date, but his remains were identified on 5/25/16. Also recently confirmed as accounted for was Major Dean A. Klenda, USAF, listed as MIA, North Vietnam, 9/17/65, recovered 12/8/14, and identified 12/30/14, but only recently announced. Prior to that release, the most recent was SFC Alan L. Boyer, USA/Special Forces, listed as MIA 3/28/68, Laos, and identified 3/16/16. This brings the total accounted for to 965 since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Another 63 US personnel, recovered by the US and identified before the end of the war, bring the total of US personnel accounted for from the Vietnam War to 1,028. Of the 1,619 still missing and unaccounted-for, 90% were lost in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos under Vietnam’s wartime control: Vietnam-1,262 (VN-464, VS-798); Laos-301; Cambodia-49; PRC territorial waters-7. These country-specific numbers can and do fluctuate when investigations result in changes to loss locations. Since formation in 1970, the League has sought the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for those still missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains.
Ann Mills-Griffiths Chairman & CEO National League of POW/MIA Families
We have heard from Deanna Klenda that her brother and my Nellis Thud School classmate, Dean, has had his remains returned home from NVN. There will be a service for Dean at the Catholic church in Pilsen, Kansas at 1100 on 17 September (51 years to the day after he went missing on a Rolling Thunder mission with his squadron mates from the 67th TFS). Burial will be in the Klenda family plot there at Pilsen.... Please pass the word to any 67th squadron alumni from the September 1965 deployment to Korat who may wish and be able to attend. There will be full military honors, and there may be a missing man formation from the Tulsa Guard guys, who have been alerted and are eager to support. Regards, Lucky Ekman
Kansas Air Force pilot missing since 1965 to be buried
WICHITA, Kan. =E2=80=94 After Dean Klenda went missing in action during the V=
ietnam War, his sister worked relentlessly with the U.S. military for decade=
s to keep a search going for his remains.
When they finally called and told Deanna Klenda that Dean was coming home, s=
he felt shock and disbelief. But the military people on the other end of the=
phone were friends of hers by then. They assured her it was true.
"Thank God," she told them...
Klenda funeral filled with patriotism
Staff writer, Peabody Gazette-Bulletin
The blessings of heaven seemed to shine down on the funeral of Maj. Dean A. Klenda Saturday in Pilsen as a heavy, early morning fog cleared to reveal a cloudless, sunny day.
Motorcycles sprouting American flags lined the streets west and north of the church prior to the 11 a.m. funeral mass at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church.
At least 80 members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and American Legion Riders from throughout central Kansas formed an avenue of flags at the entrance to the church as well as at the cemetery. Everyone who attended experienced the awesome thrill of walking down that inspiring path.
The silence was deafening as more than 400 people stood respectfully at the gravesite, some with hands over their hearts at times, during full military rites provided by McConnell Air Force Base...
Gary, this is a great story about Dean Klenda. Lucky Ekman's daughter Katie sent this to me. She was one of the first female fighter pilots in the F-15C and served with me in the 67th Fighting Cocks from 1998-2000, the same squadron her father, Lucky Ekman, served in. I remember her taking off in an F-15C from Korat in 1999, the same base Lucky flew Thuds from in Vietnam. The AF truly is a small family, served by the best Americans that have ever lived.
Dear Sparky and Brutus-
I pray this email finds you and your families well. Please forgive this “out of the blue” email, but I wanted to share something with the two of you. You are the only former Fighting Cocks with whom I am still in touch. Should you wish to share this with others from our time in the squadron/at Kadena, you have my heartfelt blessing!
A few months ago, I attended a ceremony in Pilsen, Kansas to welcome home a great American named Dean Klenda. You may recall that Dean, an F-105 pilot in the 67th TFS, was my mom’s first husband and my dad’s Thud training classmate and dear friend. Mom was widowed the day prior to her 22nd birthday when Dean was shot down over North Vietnam on September 17, 1965, the day after his renowned squadron commander, Robbie Risner, was shot down and taken POW. A complex story, but ultimately Dean was retained in MIA status until 1974, when his status shifted to KIA. Amazingly, I would not learn that my first fighter squadron was also Dean’s until the night of Lasher Menker’s going away, during which he presented the squadron with a plaque summarizing the Fighting Cock losses of that generation, specifically mentioning Dean by name.
The search for Dean’s remains continued for decades, efforts led mostly by his beloved sister, Deanna. Prayers were answered when Dean was finally brought home to rest in peace on September 17th, 2016, 51 years to the day he went missing. I was the honored, but only, member of my family to attend that sacred day in Pilsen…too difficult for both my mom and dad, who knew and love him (still) best.
Dean’s homecoming was celebrated with full military honors and by the attendance of hundreds of American Legion members, all on Harleys, all carrying American flags, dozens of his fraternity brothers and cousins, six of his UPT classmates, and finally, three of his 67th TFS squadronmates and their wives. Side story…over the summer I called up the scheduling office at the Tulsa ANG 125th FS and spoke with two young Captains, Zukma Cox and Rawdog Schuler. I asked them to please rally a 4-ship and show-up in Pilsen, KS on the morning of September 17th and execute a missing-man flyby… and they did just that…on-time, low, fast, and in burner (“just like the Thud would have done it” my father said when I recounted the story to him).
A Rick Broome painting tribute to Dean started its journey yesterday to K-Falls, where a Kadena-bound Lt. will include it in his household goods and ensure its safe keeping until delivery to Meat Mentzer, the current 67th FS CC, who will in turn give Dean’s tribute a place of honor in the halls of his squadron. I have attached a few pictures. A larger plaque will accompany the Thud painting, but the pictures of it didn’t turn out well, so I’ve copied and pasted the text from that plaque below in blue.
Thanks for listening…As a stay-at-home mom in Indiana now, our Kadena days seem light years ago. Still, I carried you all with me on that beautiful September day in Pilsen.
God Bless You-
Katie (“Bo” Ekman) Taylor
Defenders of freedom, great Americans who loved their country and each other, the warriors and families of the 67th TFS paid an immense price in the fall of 1965, enduring the highest loss rate of any Thud squadron during the 10 years of Thuds at war in Southeast Asia. In just 23 days, while taking the fight to the North Vietnamese military areas, roads and bridges, and SAM sites, the Fighting Cocks lost 8 aircraft with many others damaged. Amongst those Thud losses were Bill Bollinger and John Clark, who were rescued and later returned to the fight. Wes Schierman, Ron Byrne, Robbie Risner, and Ray Merritt were taken and remained Prisoners Of War for nearly 8 years. Edgar Hawkins was Killed In Action as was Dean Klenda. Dean was held in Missing In Action Status for almost 9 years, when in 1974 hope for his return irrevocably faded.
This painting depicts the final flight of Lieutenant Dean Klenda on his 6th combat mission. It is intended to honor the valor of all 67th Thud warriors and the sacrifices of their beloved families and also pay tribute to America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man behind. After decades of tireless searching, Dean Klenda’s remains were found, and on September 17, 2016, 51 years to the day he was lost, Dean was laid to rest with full military honors mere miles from his childhood farmhouse in Pilsen, Kansas. It is on the shoulders of Dean Klenda and his fellow giants that all Fighting Cocks stand.
Katie and Scott Taylor
Sister speaks at late brother’s reunion
Deanna Klenda of rural Marion recently spoke at his 60th class reunion for her brother, Dean, at Kapaun-Mount Caramel High School in Wichita.
Dean was missing in action in Vietnam for many years until some of his remains were found and brought back to be buried in 2016 at St. John Nepomucene Cemetery at Pilsen...