Michael Lee Klingner

United States Air Force
14 July 1945 - 06 April 1970
Mc Cook, Nebraska
Panel 12W Line 101



Mike Klingner

USAF Pilot

DFC, Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Michael Lee Klingner

20 January 1999

Remembered by a friend

Joni R. Terrio

09 November 2001

"And He will raise you up on eagles' wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His hand."

Mike, your spirit lives in our hearts and encourages us to be the best that we can be.


From his wife,
Jane Klingner Adams

The verse quoted above is from
On Eagles' Wings,
written by
Fr. Jan Michael Joncas
based on Psalm 91.

12 November 2001

Beautiful voices
and musical gifts
are not generally wasted
by God on the undeserving.
But our loss befalls us
when such a voice is stilled too early.

God bless and let you rest, Michael.

James M. Walters, friend & fraternity brother

01 December 2001

An MIA Bracelet Comes Home
Tribute to a friend and fellow soldier
Opens in a new window

23 Dec 2004

We all still miss you terribly. I put out your flag each morning and give you a salute to say hello and thank you for your gift of love and life. Thank you, old friend and soldier.

From a childhood friend, pledge son, and fellow USAF pilot,
Steve Batty
16 Dec 2004

Whom we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose.
Your memory is held dear by many whose lives you touched so endearingly.

From a childhood friend,
Sue Jewell

6 Apr 2005

35 years ago today, Mike failed to return from an F-100 mission to Laos. I remember the profound shock of everyone in the squadron as if it were yesterday. Mike and I were fellow lieutenants and pilots in the 308th TFS, and flew together and pulled quick-reaction alert duty together numerous times. I always considered him the best wingman I flew with. You could always depend on him, no matter what the mission was.

Mike was fun to know and be around, always in a good mood with a smile on his face. I considered him one of my best friends in my entire Air Force career. Since his death happened so long ago, I will always remember him as "Forever Young".

From a friend and fellow F-100 pilot,
Carrol Johnson
14960 Pamlico Road, Apple Valley, Ca 92307

11 Apr 2005

Thirty-five years.
It still hurts
Sixty years.
You would be old like me.
Two heroic Mikes from McCook.
Both never found, now old friends in His arms.

From a friend,
Louis W. Burgher

Notes from The Virtual Wall

On 06 Apr 1970 a small fuel dump was identified along the Ho Chi Minh Trail just inside Laos about 25 miles west of Kham Duc. A flight of F-100s from the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Tuy Hoa was tasked with destroying the dump. On arrival in the target area, the airborne Forward Air Controller pointed out the target. The F-100 flight leader was not able to acquire the target, but wingman Captain Klingner did and he was cleared in hot.

Klingner, who was flying F-100D tail number 56-3278, failed to pull up from his first strafing run and was not seen to eject from the aircraft before ground impact. Search and rescue efforts failed to establish any contact with him and on conclusion of the SAR effort he was classed as Missing in Action. During the first annual review of Captain Klingner's circumstances, an Air Force board concluded that all available evidence indicated he had been killed in the crash and his status was changed to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered.

North Vietnamese Army wartime records available since the war do indicate that an F-100 was shot down at that time and place, and the crash site has been investigated (1995 and 1997) but no remains were recovered.

As noted on Steve Batty's separate memorial, linked above, a memorial service was held for Mike Klingner in connection with the McCook (Nebraska) High School All Class Reunion on July 3rd, 2000. The service was reported by the McCook Daily Gazette and the Omaha World-Herald. While these reports are linked from Mr. Batty's memorial, they are repeated here as an integral part of remembering Captain Klingner's service and death.

Jane Klingner Adams (left) holds the flag she received
during Monday's memorial service for her late husband, Mike,
who was shot down in Vietnam.
(Gazette photo/Pam Geihsler) July 3, 2000.

Missing airman honored
By Pam Geihsler, Gazette Writer

Thirty years is a long time to wait for a memorial service and closure for a loved one killed in action.

But that is exactly how long the family and friends of Michael Klingner have waited to be able to finally say goodbye to Michael, whose F-100 fighter plane crashed April 6, 1970 when his Air Force squadron was flying over Laos during a Vietnam War mission.

Mayor Flora Lundberg proclaimed July 3, 2000, "Michael Klingner Memorial Day," at a memorial service to honor his death and service to his country. The official proclamation reads, "due to the delay between his MIA and KIA there was never a memorial service for him" and this has prompted "a public memorial service for Mike during this year's All-Class reunion."

Klingner's MIA bracelet was recently returned to a former classmate and childhood friend of Klingner's, Steve Batty, following an e-mail received by the editor of the McCook Daily Gazette requesting family or friends of Mike to respond to a woman in Lincoln who had a bracelet with Klingner's name on it.

Batty followed up with the woman, Ann White, who had worn the bracelet faithfully for more than 20 years because, "the enormity of the enemy capturing so many young Americans, and their families having no finality, weighed on me."

After Batty received the bracelet, he and his father, Dr. John Batty, put together several items for a display honoring Mike to be permanently displayed in the basement of the McCook City Library in the Michael Klingner Memorial Room.

"To see just his name above the door was not enough," Dr. Batty said.

Also to be included in the display will be the American flag which was presented at the memorial service to Jane Klingner Adams, Mike's wife at the time of his tour of duty in Vietnam.

Mike was born in McCook in 1945 and went on to graduate from McCook High School in 1963 and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1967 with a political science degree. While at the University he participated in the AFROTC program and eventually graduated from the USAF pilot training program at Williams AFB in Phoenix, AZ. Jane and Mike were married in August 1968 after having met and falling in love during college.

In December, 1968, as a top graduate of his Air Force pilot training class, he was given first choice for duty and chose the F-100 Super Saber fighter air craft, even though it meant an automatic tour of duty in Vietnam, he left soon after completing F-100 school.

Jane has since remarried, has three sons and lives in Greeley, Colo., but the memorial service and display still are very important to her to bring closure to Mike's life and death.

"I've been blessed to go on and have a good life and family, but you don't know how good it feels to come back here and be with you who were close to Mike and how important it was to have Mike in my life, even just for a short time," Adams said.

Adams read excerpts from several of Mike's letters he wrote to her from Vietnam before his crash. Several letters made reference to missions over "Litter Land," an area in which no Americans were fighting and over which very few pilots were flying. In one dated November 1969, Mike described a pass his flight made in which he had one last bomb he had to drop, and he "did it and got the hell out of there."

After Mike's plane crash, when Jane was informed of his MIA status, "the details that the officers gave me were incredibly brief for such a life-changing event," Jane said.

The original reports of the crash were very sketchy. The basics were: Lt. Klingner was the first in his flight to be cleared in on the designated target in a mission over southeast Asia, and immediately thereafter, his plane crashed in a ball of flame with no sight of a parachute and no sounds of the beeper that goes off automatically when a pilot ejects.

Several years later, Jane found out the crash site had been excavated once in 1995 and again in 1997. Although wreckage of an F-100 was found that was thought to have been Klingner's in the area of the crash, there was reportedly no sign of life support equipment or a burial site.

From more recent information gathered in the past few years, it has been determined that there is a possibility that Mike might have tried to eject before or on impact, but because no parachute was sighted, he quite likely died at the crash site.

Also, because the possibility of a Vietnamese eye-witness ever coming forward is quite unlikely, it will probably never be known exactly what happened to his remains. At the time of the crash, it was the habit of the Vietnamese to bury bodies at the crash sites, but the acidity of the soil in that area increases the decomposition of bodies, so it is unlikely that any remains will ever be found.

Jane has worked with the National League of Families for several years to try to learn more specific information about the cause of the crash and exactly what might have happened afterward, but still has not received much more specific information.

The memorial service and proclamation of "Michael Klingner Memorial Day" has finally brought about closure to the life and death of "a gallant soldier who gave his life for his country and community," according to the Mayor's proclamation.

Mayor Lundberg also said that hopefully Mike is watching from above, and "perhaps he needs the same kind of closure we need. Now it's time to say farewell to Capt. Mike Klingner, and say well done."

"I've done a lot of talking on far less worthy subjects," former governor Frank Morrison, said of his relationship with Klingner. "There are few people I've ever known in my life that possessed the qualities of leadership... to the extent that Mike embodied."

Batty described Mike as a surrogate brother and "hero" because his own brother had died in 1951. Batty said Mike inspired him to go on and follow in his footsteps as an Air Force pilot.

Several other classmates and friends of Klingner's recounted their relationships with him during his short life. Descriptions of him included a "big brother" and "everyone's best friend."

McCook Daily Gazette
Reproduced by permission

World-Herald photo

McCook Service Honors Airman Killed Over Laos
by Paul Hammel, World-Herald Bureau Lincoln - July 2000

Thirty years after Michael Klingner was killed in a mission over Laos, his friends and classmates gathered for a memorial service for the McCook, Neb., man.

Klingner, then 24, was initially listed as missing in action after being shot down in his F-100 on April 6, 1970. A year later, he was declared dead, although his body was never found. No memorial service was ever held in McCook.

More than 100 people, including former Gov. Frank Morrison and McCook Mayor Flora Lundberg, attended the memorial event Monday. Friends from as far away as California attended.

Steve Batty, a close friend of Klingner's and a McCook City Council member, said the service was the way to honor a valued friend. It was held in conjunction with an all-class high school reunion in McCook.

Klingner graduated from McCook in 1963 and the University of Nebraska in 1967 as a 2nd Lieutenant then went on to USAF pilot training at Williams AFB in Arizona.

He was a drummer and a member of a regional rock'n' roll band, J Harrison B and the Bumbles, that will be enshrined in August in the Nebraska Rock Music Hall of Fame.

A member of the band, Stan Johnson, now of Davis, Calif., played taps at the memorial service. Later, Klingner's widow, Jane Klingner Adams of Greeley, Colo., presented a slide show of Klingner's life.

Batty said that the event grew after a Lincoln woman, Ann White, attempted to reunite an MIA bracelet she had worn for over 20 years with members of Klingner's family. The bracelet, with Klingner's name on it, became part of a display shown in the Michael Klingner Memorial Room at the McCook City Library.

Omaha World-Herald
Reproduced by permission

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his wife,
Jane Klingner Adams
20 Jan 1999

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 04/12/2005