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PVT. HENRY KLASSEN 76TH FIELD ARTILLERY WW2



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PVT. HENRY KLASSEN 76TH FIELD ARTILLERY WW2


PVT. HENRY KLASSEN 76TH FIELD ARTILLERY WW2
By Ken Murray
Published in the Record Searchlight, Redding, CA, May 24, 2009

Henry was 24 years old when he received his draft notice. As would any red-blooded American in love, he promptly got married. After all he would only be in the Army for one year as a draftee. He reported for induction at Ft. McArthur, California on April 8, 1941. He was promptly transferred to the 76th Field Artillery in Fort Ord. Field Artillery was not mechanized so the Army taught him to ride a horse, something he had already mastered as a young man in Kansas.

Henry became a lead horse driver, towing a 75mm French made cannon from WWI. The Army had very little ammunition so they had to practice with a 30mm strapped to the barrel of the 75mm to learn azimuth and range finding.

War broke out eight months after Henry entered the Army. His Company was assigned to protect the shores of California. On assignment in Carmel he received a radio message that four U-boats had been spotted in his area.

Henry lined up his 75mm toward where he thought one might come up and waited. He could only fire once as shore defense artillery had only been given one live round per cannon. Such was the state of our nation’s military preparedness.

Although U-boats did fire on the coast of California and Oregon Henry never fired a shot. Henry thought this was good since the recoil stop on his cannon was broken and there were no replacement parts. He always stood to the side when in the firing position knowing the recoil would probably send the cannon several hundred feet backwards.

In late winter of 1943 the 76th was sent to Bay Meadows Race Track and traded in their horses for trucks to pull their cannons. They then were sent to the desert near 29 Palms in California where they practiced for two months with their new US made 105mm Howitzers.

In late spring of 1944 they were sent to England in a captured WWI German freighter. They hit the beach near Normandy on D-Day plus 13. By that time the German Army was in the hedgerows and not on the beach to Henry’s eternal thanks.

Because the 76th Field Artillery was mobile they served in the 1st and 3rd Army, sometimes under Patton and other times under Bradley. When Henry saw German soldiers he saw ordinary guys who were just as afraid as he was.

From France to Belgium to Germany to occupied Czechoslovakia, Henry learned about both the pain and safety of digging a fox hole. When U.S. forces met the Russian troops at the German/Russian border the war was over except for the mop-up.

Mop-up consisted of capturing German troops. There was virtually no resistance left. The U.S. Army was supposed to turn over captured German troops to the Russians. The Gestapo troops were turned over but ordinary foot soldiers were sent to the rear or just told to go home, to hell with the Russians.

Henry got to come home in November of 1945. No crowds greeted the ship in New York, just the Red Cross. He flew home to California. It took five days because of bad weather. They had to land twice in Arkansas and once in Oklahoma before they made it home.

Like most, the first stop out of the gate at Camp Beale was a clothing store to purchase “civvies” and then home by bus to his wife of almost five years.

He became a roofer in the Bay Area and in 1957 moved with his wife to Shasta County and became a roofing contractor. He retired after a stroke in 1993. The stroke didn’t affect his mind, just his balance.

This Memorial Day I am reminded of the thousands who served. Some died but most have returned home. They are all part of the fabric that makes us the greatest nation on earth, the home of the free.

I want to send out a special thank you to a man who was drafted to serve for a year and came home five and one-half years later. A man who today lives on his ranch in Shingletown. A man who is now 92 years young and living in a home he built with his own hands. His family was from Germany. He is 100% American.

Thank you Henry Klassen!


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76TH FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION MOVEMENT DURING WW2
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76th Field Artillery Battalion Movement During WW2



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FORT ORD U.S. ARMY STATION VETERINARY HOSPITAL (HORSE) WW2
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Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2


76TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1922 TO 1940
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76th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion


11TH CAVALRY PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1919 TO 1940
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11th Cavalry Presidio of Monterey, 1919 to 1940


THE ARMY VETERINARY SERVICE DURING THE GREAT WAR, WW1
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The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1



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