WWII POW Ralph F. Kling Has Died, Age 95;
Led Effort for POW Monument at Miramar National Cemetery
Ralph F. Kling, a fighter pilot who was shot down and captured by the Germans during World War II, died at his home 28 March 2020, at age 95. Kling, vice commander of American Ex-Prisoners of War San Diego Chapter 1, led the effort to place the POW Monument at Miramar National Cemetery.
Entitled “Liberation”, the 12-foot bronze statue of an emaciated man in rags surrounded by barbed wire, represents the moment a POW is liberated from his prison camp. Steve Muro, Veterans Affairs Secretary for Memorial Affairs, dedicated the monument, 16 September 2011.
“Visitors to the cemetery who see this monument will realize the sacrifice that American soldiers made to keep freedom alive around the world,” Kling said during the dedication ceremony. “They’ll remember that the veterans buried here at Miramar gave their all, and we’re fortunate to be able to recognize them.”
“Members of our Board were fortunate to have worked closely with Ralph Kling on the placement of the POW monument at Miramar,” said Charlie Inot, President and CEO of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation. “Thanks to Ralph, the monument is now a prominent and inspirational feature of the cemetery – a stark reminder of those POWs, like him, who sacrificed so much for our nation in time of war.”
Kling was born in Mead, Neb., 27 August 1924, and moved with his family to California’s central valley when he was four years old. He attended UC Berkeley for a short while before he and his twin brother, Roger, joined the Army Air Corps. He married his wife of 76 years, Irene, shortly before shipping out to Europe.
Kling flew a P-47 Thunderbolt – named “Poppy” for California’s state flower – with the 365th Fighter Group, supporting General George Patton’s army in Normandy. On his 68th mission, his plane was strafed and caught fire, badly burning him before he could parachute out. Captured by the Germans, he was held at Stalag Luft III. Before liberation, his group was marched for three days and nights without food or water.
Following the war, Kling began a 35-year career in education. He was principal of Fremont Union High School in Sunnyvale for more than 11 years. He remained active in the Air Force Reserve, and served as AXPOW regional director and vice commander of the San Diego chapter. Services and burial at Miramar National Cemetery will be held after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Kling is survived by his wife, Irene, two daughters, two grandsons, and six great-grandchildren; and his twin brother, Roger Kling, of Turlock, Calif.
By Bill Heard
MNC Support Foundation PIO