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Walter Kloc, World War II veteran, GM engineer dies at 102

WWII veteran Walter Kloc commissions his grandson Joseph Kloc at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. (U.S. Air Force Academy/Released)

Sept. 26, 1917 – Feb. 3, 2020

Walter Kloc, of Snyder, a World War II bombardier and retired automotive engineer, died Feb. 3 in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 102.

Born in Chicago, one of six children, he attended high school in Case City, Mich., and majored in industrial engineering at Central Michigan University. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, hoping to become a pilot.

“I was put on a waiting list because they did not have enough aircrafts and airfields,” he told Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel in 2017. “After three months of waiting, I decided to get a job and went to work for General Motors as a student engineer in Detroit.”

After four months at GM, he was accepted into the Army’s pilot training program, only to discover after his primary training that the Army needed bombardiers and navigators, not pilots.

He did so well as a bombardier that he was promoted to bombardier squadron leader, then went to a base in Columbia, S.C., where he taught crews how to drop bombs.

In 1944, he was reassigned to the 13th Air Force, the “Jungle Air Force,” in the Pacific. He flew 62 missions, striking enemy airfields all over the South Pacific with a variety of crews as lead bombardier on B-25 bombers.

After the war, he resumed his work as a student engineer for GM in Detroit. In 1952, as a full-fledged engineer, he was transferred to the General Motors engine plant in the Town of Tonawanda, where he designed material handling equipment, parts and overhead conveyors. He retired as senior engineer in 1985.

He returned to military service in 1957 with the Air Force Reserve and retired in 1965 with the rank of major.

Mr. Kloc was a member of the Polish Genealogical Society of Western New York, scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop and a member of the American Chestnut Foundation.

He was a lifelong bowler and golfer. He continued golfing until last year.

At the age of 101, he traveled the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to watch his grandson Joseph graduate from the academy and to commission him as an officer in the Air Force.

Surviving are his wife of 72 years, the former Virginia Kaczanowski; three sons, Gerald, William and Dennis; a daughter, Francine Kloc-Bauchan; a sister, Victoria Wolak; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Christ the King Catholic Church, 30 Lamarck Drive at Main Street, Snyder.


© 2020 The Buffalo News

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