In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Technical Sergeant McLaughlin, South Dakota
Corson County

March 28, 1916 – September 24, 1950
Killed in Action in Korea

Karl Vernon Kludt was born March 28, 1916, in McClusky, North Dakota, to Emanuel and Caroline Kludt. He was the tenth of twelve children: Benjamin, Emil, Lydia, Johanna, Clare, Elmer, Rueben, Ellsworth, Clarence, Milton, and Gertrude. The family later moved to McLaughlin, South Dakota, when Karl was still young. He went to school locally and graduated from McLaughlin High School before going on to get a teaching degree at State Teachers College, Mayville, North Dakota. His wife, Virginia, a native of Camden, South Carolina, was a teacher. They had one daughter, Caroline, nicknamed “Chee,” born in 1946. Karl is remembered for being a gifted teacher and a talented artist, a trait he passed on to his daughter.

On June 13, 1940, Karl Kludt entered active service in the Marine Corps. He was stationed on the USS Minneapolis at Pearl Harbor and then saw much action in WW II in the Pacific, including Battle of Bougainville, Battle of Salamua, Battle of Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, and the Battle of Tassafaronga, as well as the occupation of Guadalcanal-Tulagi in the Solomon Islands and Funafuti, Ellice Islands. He was wounded in the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942, when the gun turret he was manning was destroyed by enemy fire, and he fell into burning oil on the deck. He was transferred back to the United States for the remainder of the war, spending months in recovery. T Sgt. Kludt then attended Naval Flight School for a time and then was sent for radar training. In 1946, he was attached to an Air Wing in North Carolina, and in 1949, he worked as a Marine Corps recruiter in San Francisco and then San Jose. In July of 1950, T Sgt. Kludt was recalled to active service with his All Weather Fighter Squadron, the “Nightfighters” at El Toro, California, and from there he was sent to Korea, arriving in September of 1950.

T. Sgt. Kludt participated in the bombings during the Invasion of the Inchon Peninsula as a radio operator. On September 24, 1950, during the fifth day of operations, his plane received a direct hit from anti-aircraft, exploded, and crashed into the Han River, very close to a power plant. The body of Technical Sergeant Karl Kludt was never recovered. To honor him, his name is included at the Gardens of the Missing, Punch Bowl Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart with Gold Star, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kristal J. Flory, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota. Information for this entry was provided by South Dakota Nation Guard Museum and by the Kludt family. Profile approval by Chee Ricketts, daughter.