Montana’s U. S. Sen. Jon Tester made a special stop in Havre Tuesday to present a string of military honors to the family of a Havre soldier 68 years after he died in combat.
“This nation has a long way to go to live up to the promises that we made to our men and women in uniform, ” Tester said when he presented the medals earned by Staff Sgt. John Klobofski. “But we take a giant leap forward when we make sure they receive the recognition that they have earned, and that is exactly what we are doing today. ”
In a ceremony in the Hill County Courthouse, Tester presented to Klobofski’s sister-in-law Alma Klobofski the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars, the World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge First Award.
“These medals are presented on behalf of a grateful nation, ” Tester said, adding that he was just informed that John Klobofski’s name is on the World War II memorial outside of the county courthouse.
“The fact is a lot of these folks have sacrificed for our ability to stand here today …, ” he said. “The kind of values that Montanans have are the kind of values that John V. Klobofski stood up for and gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life. And we ought to be always grateful for that, and these medals are a sign of that thanks that we give to them. ”
Alma Klobofski, who accepted the medals with a dozen family members at the ceremony, said the family is pleased John is being honored for his service.
Tester, who has tracked down and awarded medals for more than 100 Montana veterans, read a citation to the Klobofski family that he will read on the floor of the Senate to be entered in the Congressional Record.
“And it will be recorded in American history forever, ” he said.
John Klobofski was born in Cleveland in 1919, and graduated from Chinook High School.
He then enlisted in the National Guard, serving for three years, then attended Northern Montana College, now Montana State University-Northern, and worked for the U. S. Weather Bureau in Havre.
After the start of World War II, Klobofski re-enlisted in 1940 and was assigned to the 41st Infantry Division. As a member of the 163rd Infantry Regiment, John was a part of the campaign to capture New Guinea, which was then under Japanese control.
His unit landed on the island of Aitape April 22, 1944. Within a number of days, the unit had captured and secured two airfields. Because of how quickly the soldiers were able to seize these airfields, John’s unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
But fighting continued in the region for several days and Klobofski was one of many men killed in the combat.
John Klobofski died April 30, 1944.
“I just want to thank the Klobofski family for setting the record straight …, ” Tester said after presenting the medals. “It’s like so many Americans that just went out there and did their jobs, and some of them didn’t make it back home. ”