The following is a press release from the office of Congressman John Kline.
Congressman John Kline presented Ralph Klett (Mendota Heights), 95, and Joseph Ginter (Shakopee) with the French Legion of Honor medal at congressional medal ceremonies this week. The ‘Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur,” created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is generally, but not exclusively awarded for military service and is the highest decoration bestowed by France.
“As a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps whose dad landed on the beaches of Normandy, it is a great honor to present the French Legion of Honor medal to Mr. Klett and Mr. Ginter,” said Kline, who retired from the USMC at the rank of Colonel. “The freedoms and liberties we and so many around the world cherish are owed to the blood and sacrifice of countless Americans like Mr. Klett and Mr. Ginter, members of the ‘greatest generation’ who answered their nation’s call in pursuit of freedom and a safer world.”
Klett, a first generation American, was a 1936 graduate of Central High School in St. Paul. He entered the U.S. Army through Fort Snelling, becoming a “Field Lineman.” He entered the European Theater of Operation (ETO) at Normandy as a member of the Advanced Section, Communication Zone (ADSEC), which was part of the 3rd Infantry Division. Klett earned a Purple Heart after receiving injuries during the Rhineland Campaign and was sent to Jones Hospital in Michigan for rehabilitation, then honorably discharged on Dec. 13, 1945.
Klett continued employment with the U.S. Postal Service while living in West St. Paul. He retired after 36 years of employment with the USPS and began volunteering for the Red Cross by making blood deliveries and driving patients to their appointments. An active member of the VFW and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), he currently lives at Mendakota Manor in Mendota Heights. All three of Klett’s sons have served in the military – two in the Army and one in the U.S. Navy.
Ginter entered the U.S. Army in June, 1943, attending boot camp and infantry training at Ft. McClellan, Ala. Ginter deployed to North Africa on Thanksgiving Day, 1943 and joined “G” Company, 141st Infantry, 36th Division. Because of his courageous efforts during the battle of Rome (Monte Cassino), Ginter was awarded the Silver Star. He continued to serve in France and was part of the historic “Battle of the Bulge.” As a Master Sergeant, Ginter was awarded the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, two Purple Hearts, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Ginter was honorably discharged from the Army in October, 1945. Two years later, he joined the U.S. Air Force where he served for 20 years, retiring in 1966. Ginter worked for Northwest Airlines, is now retired and lives in Shakopee.