Patchogue man fighting to get father military honor
A Patchogue man is fighting to get the nation's highest military honor for his late father.
James Klein Jr. says his father deserves the Medal of Honor because of his acts of heroism during World War II.
Army Sgt. James Klein died 45 years ago after a battle with cancer. His son says he never mentioned his military service to the family.
However, in April 1945, Army Sgt. Klein's combat platoon took heavy fire in Okinawa. As a result, five men were wounded and another was buried alive.
Army records show Sgt. Klein dug his fellow soldier out and carried him to safety. He then helped save the other five, and manned his gun position alone for the rest of the night while under enemy attack.
"I couldn't believe what he did and not wanting to tell anybody about it. To me, it just went above and beyond. I mean he put his life on the line for these guys and his unit after staying there and manning his gun position alone," Klein Jr. says.
Klein had already been awarded the Bronze Star for that heroism and a Purple Heart after being wounded in the head.
A previous application for the Medal of Honor was unsuccessful, partly due to missed deadlines and missing documentation. Rep. Lee Zeldin is now working with the family.
"That kind of bravery merits the highest awards of our military recognition," says Zeldin. "It is true leadership."
Zeldin and Sgt. Klein's family say if the Medal of Honor isn't approved, there is still the possibility of applying for the Silver Star.