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"Serving in the White House was a tremendous experience, but in terms of what I went in the Marine Corps for, serving in Somalia was just the best." (Video Interview, 32:56)

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   John Kline
Image of John Kline
John Kline [2007]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Somalia, 1992-1995
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 31st Marine Aviation Operation; HMX-1 (Marine Helicopter Squadron); HMH-362 (Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron); MAG-16 (Marine Aircraft Group)
Service Location: Quantico, Virginia; Fort Wolters, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Da Nang, Vietnam; Hawaii; Washington, DC; Okinawa, Japan; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Carlyle and Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania; Pentagon, Virginia; also: Mogadishu, Somalia; Quantico, Virginia
Rank: Colonel; Colonel
Place of Birth: PA
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John Kline's 25 years in the Marine Corps took him to Vietnam, where late in that war he swept mines from a helicopter; the White House, where he served in the Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 under Presidents Ford and Carter and as the Marine Corps Aide to Carter and Reagan; and to Somalia, where in the early days of the 1992 U.S. intervention, he served as aviation commander, in charge of 2000 men. Kline was elected to represent Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District in 2002; as of 2009, he was still serving.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Complete Interview  (62 min.)
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»Photo Album (6 photos)
 Other Materials
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»Helicopters: The Multi-Mission Aircraft
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Completing training at Quantico and deciding to go to flight school; going to Army Flight School in Texas and Alabama; orders to go to Vietnam in 1971; he swapped assignments with an enlisted Marine who had already done one tour and was not eager to go back; May 1971, landing in Okinawa; stopped there for a time; patrolling the waters off Vietnam; sweeping mines in Haiphong harbor; in Philippines when U.S. POWs were released. School in Texas and Alabama; orders to go to Vietnam in 1971; he swapped assignments with an enlisted Marine who had already done one tour and was not eager to go back; May 1971, landing in Okinawa; stopped there for a time; patrolling the waters off Vietnam; sweeping mines in Haiphong harbor; in Philippines when U.S. POWs were released. (05:53) Details on how the minesweeping operations worked; flying was very dangerous because of the heavy equipment involved; lost three helicopters but no serious injuries. (04:32) Having opportunity to go to Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, which flies for the President of the U.S.; Ford was President, then Carter became President and he was offered job of Marine Corps Aide; when Reagan took office, was asked to stay on; left in 1982. (03:58)
After being promoted to Colonel, given command of Marine Aircraft Group 16; tail end of Persian Gulf War, cleaning up equipment used in the war; deteriorating conditions in Somalia; President Bush ordering Marines to go to Mogadishu to facilitate humanitarian aide; commanding over 2000 Marines and sailors in a hostile country; took no casualties; most satisfying experience of his career. (03:36) Typical day in Somalia; peaceful mornings; militias chewing a stimulant drug, khat, and shooting off their weapons; story of arms bazaar in Mogadishu and Marines confronting owner of newly bought weapon; refugee camp having its water pump stolen by militia men; trying to comprehend those kind of actions and culture. (04:46) What happened after U.S. troops left the country to U.N. troops; U.N. officers not disciplined or cooperative; situation even worse now; thousands of Somali refugees have fled to Minnesota. (04:50)
Going into Somalia well prepared; militias backed off from confronting U.S. military directly; having to build latrines there rather than use porta-potties; learning to improvise and make do with less. (04:16) Duties at White House as Marine Aide; doing advance work for trips; carrying nuclear football not that difficult; personal memories of Presidents he worked with; little contact with Ford, fishing trip in Pennsylvania with the Carters and the physician, all staying in a little cabin; horseback riding with Reagan in California; listening to his stories; telling him jokes which might he might use later; just being with the President during historical events was fascinating; coordinating with his counterpart who was with Reagan when he was shot. (07:22) "His decision to run for Congress based in part on his military experience, which he felt was needed in Congress; lost two elections before he won one; serving on Armed Services Committee; difference between military and Congress; in military hyperbole is not permitted; in the military, everyone is on time for meetings." (03:56)
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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