Two Journeys to
One Wondrous Life.
Klein enlisted in the Navy right after graduation from high school in 1942 and seved in the Pacific during WWII. He then returned to the University of Nebraska (Johnny Carson was a fraternity brother and friend). He received a BA in Journalism, and went back into the Navy as an Ensign in 1949 and completed flight training in Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas. He became a fighter pilot on carriers and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet just as the Korean War began.
His carrier, the U.S.S. Wright, took part in the first big NATO naval exercise, Operation Mainbrace, in September 1952. They operated in the North and Baltic Seas observing Russian Naval operations and were assigned the task of tracking their submarines. This was at the height of the Cold War.
Klein opted out of Active duty in mid 1953, but remained in the Naval Reserves until 1976 fulfilling all of his commitments. He went to work as a pilot for American Airlines, based in Idlewild and Laguardia. He took a leave of absence when he was notified he had been awarded a scholarship as the Hitchcock Scholar at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.
He earned his MS in Journalism in 1954.
He became an Associate Editor of Air Force Magazine in Washington, D.C. upon graduation from Columbia. He traveled widely for stories, including a trip to Europe to report on the progress of NATO.
He relocated to San Francisco in the Late 50’s and joined the Organizing Committee for the 1960 Olympic Winter Games at Squaw Valley. His interest in the sport dated to his WW2 stint in Seattle and Alaska. He bought his first ski equipment from Eddie Bauer out of his garage in Seattle.
A Gay Man, Naval Aviator, Airline Pilot
I live in Napa, California. I was born at home in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1924, the 7th of 8 children of immigrant Germans who worked the beet fields of Nebraska during the depression. In the scorching heat of summer, we lived in two small cabins, one for cooking, another for sleeping.
One of my most prized possessions is the First Prize Certificate
awarded to my father by the American Beet Sugar Company. It reads: this prize is given for Contract Labor hand work to Henry J Klein. This award is based, principally, on the best general work performed, stands of beets left, selective thinning and clean hoeing during the growing season of 1928. I was four years old. This prize is awesome, when you consider that thousands of families, such as ours, were working the beet fields in many Midwestern States that year.
All of our work contributed to the wealth of the Spreckels family in San Francisco. Adolf Spreckels’ widow, Alma died in the big Mansion they built in Pacific Heights in the city. Danielle Steel owns it now and is living there.
Essentially, I had to walk parallel high wires, both leading to one
wonderous filled life to reminisce about in old age with no regrets. I held “Top Secret” clearance in my many years as a Navy Carrier, and American Airlines pilot, while at the same time enjoying a deep and abiding love with my spouse Scott Chappell. This is the right of every couple. We will be celebrating 38 years together next Valentines Day. My tentative working title for this book is, Two Journeys to One Wondrous Life.