French Consul General thanks 94-year-old for his service
By Deb Silverthorn
Kol hakavod, brava honneur and great honor to Dallas resident PFC Frederick “Fred” Klein, who on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur — the Knight of the French Legion of Honor — medal. Decorated with the award by French Consul General Alexis Andres, Klein stood among family and community at Dallas City Hall.
“Seventy-four years ago World War II ended and I hope nothing like it will ever occur again,” said Klein, who turns 95 on Dec. 20. In addition to this honor, Klein has received the Bronze Star, European African Middle Eastern, Good Conduct and World War II Victory medals. At the ceremony, the City of Dallas gave Klein a commemorative coin marking the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. “I appreciate this award and know we helped bring freedom to the French people as well as to many others in Europe,” Klein said
For Andres, presenting the award is one of the greatest joys of his role. Klein is one of 300 Texans in the last 10 years to receive the honor. “Frederick was very young when he was sent to war and most of those young men had never traveled, never been abroad, never been to Europe,” said the consul general of France, based in Houston. “I was born in the region that was liberated by this division and, with my countrymen, am forever grateful for the contribution to peace. Frederick and his men were nothing less than heroes.”
The Légion d’Honneur award is an order of distinction, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, to honor extraordinary contributions to France. The award is given only to veterans still alive, and to those who meet a strict criterion of application, including fighting in either the liberation of France, Normandy, Provence/Southern France or Northern France.
A native of the Bronx, New York, Klein is the son of Jeanette and Jules Klein and younger brother of Florence and Leonard, all of blessed memory.
After graduating from high school, Klein was drafted and began basic training in June 1943, his Military Occupational Service, the Infantry Scout 761. In January 1944 he left for England, where he was trained in combat intelligence to plot maps for the powers that be to determine their course of action. With the 83rd Infantry Division, he joined the fight in Normandy, France.
In August 1944, Klein’s unit moved to the Brittany Peninsula, overtaking the Germans in many towns including the capture of the Fortress Paula on Hill 48. The division then moved to the Loire Valley, Luxembourg, Hurtgen Forest, Ardennes, Rhineland, Heart of Germany and Elbe River crossing.
After returning to the United States, and receiving an honorable discharge, Klein attended and graduated from Long Island University’s Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, following in the professional footsteps of his father. In 1954, Klein, his brother and father opened Lister Pharmacy while he also worked as a pharmacist for a vitamin company.
Klein left the family pharmacy, then developing the first national mail-order prescription program as a benefit sponsored by unions, companies and state and federal governmental agencies. He retired in 2003.
Klein and his wife, Marcia, moved to Dallas in 2006 and recently celebrated 66 years of marriage. They were first introduced by a mutual friend. The couple are the parents of Jody (Barry) Klein-Saffran and Marc (Angela) and the grandparents of Adam and Debbie Klein and Alex and Jay Saffran.
“The whole family is very proud of Dad, and this ceremony and honor are both well-deserved and incredible to be a part of,” said Marc. “It is nice to have the memories to share, and the legacy that he has lived noted. His example to our family, and to everyone, is very special.”
World travelers, the couple have been to 104 countries, to each continent, and they’ve seen the Seven Wonders of the World. “I’ve always enjoyed traveling, except of course in the case of my service — that wasn’t ‘traveling,’” said Klein. “I wanted to see as much of this world as I could before I leave it.”