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Page 44
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Memories of Steve Klinkhammer

By John Zutz

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If you were on the volleyball court at a VVAW July 4 campout, you probably played with (or against) Steve Klinkhammer. Steve was likely the organizer, and it seemed he wouldn't quit. He outplayed many of the kids.

This is a quality that governed his life.

Steve had the misfortune of living in Racine, so those of us in Milwaukee or Chicago didn't have a lot of direct contact. But news of his actions and accomplishments came often. Steve was the "Energizer Bunny" of Racine County. He kept moving and he worked hard to attract attention. He was tireless in his efforts to improve his community.

Stephen joined the Navy out of high school and served two tours in Vietnam. He was on the USS America (CVA66) in the Gulf of Tonkin when the war ended in 1973, and served again with Surgical Team 6, attached to the 2nd/9th Marines for the evacuation of refugees from Saigon in the spring and summer of 1975 setting up refugee camps and providing care for them in camps from the Philippines to Guam.

I particularly remember attending the annual Halloween Costume Ball at the Racine Memorial Hall. I recall when Steve and his buddies painted themselves bronze and posed as a duplicate of the Three Men statue that stands at The Wall. I know he was a mover in the recent rehabilitation of Racine's Legacy Museum and Veterans Museum. Steve raised money to open a bar/restaurant inside the Racine Vets Center called the Foxhole Lounge.

He was an active leader in many veterans groups. He organized food drives and fundraisers, among other events. He made a difference. He made the world a better place and he will be missed by many.

John Zutz is a Milwaukee VVAW member.

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