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  • The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko
  • The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko
  • The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko
  • The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko

Item: C1478

The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko


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The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko

The Memorial Cross of Pilot Klimenko - George VI (SGT. PILOT M. KLIMENKO R-125988). Naming is officially engraved. Light contact, extremely fine. In its hardshelled case of issue, scuffed in one corner on the lid, case near extremely fine. Accompanied by a CD containing thirty-three pages with copies of his ComputerCard (confirming his eligibility for the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal), Index Card, Attestation Paper, Service Records, St. Gregory's Russian Orthodox (Homestead, Pa.) Birth Certificate, Honorable Discharge Letter from the Navy Department (dated August 8, 1941), RCAF Report of Pupil Pilot - Flying and Ground Training (dated February 17, 1942), RCAF Recommendation for Remustering to Aircrew, Province of Quebec Death Certificate (dated September 21, 1942 at Chicoutimi), RCAF Casualty Notification (dated September 23, 1942), RCAF Officer or Airman's Report on Accidental of Self-Inflicted Injuries or Immediate Death Therefrom, Proceedings of Court Inquiry or Investigation - Flying Accidents Report, Report of Death of United States Citizen in Military Service, Will, Estates Branch Application, letter from his sister (Lydia) to DND Ottawa (requesting information in regards to his gravestone) and three newspaper articles from the New Kensington Daily Dispatch (reporting on his death, the arrival of the body in Cheswick and his funeral). Footnote: Michael Klimenko was born on Homestead, Pennsylvania (although the newspaper article claims it was Renton) on October, 3, 1918, the son of Matvey (Mathew) Klimenko (miner by occupation) and Helen Klimenko. He had two brothers: Private Wassel Klimenko, U.S. Marines in New York and Corporal Albert Klimenko, U.S. Army in Panama, along with one sister, Lydia Klimenko, who was living at home. He was educated at Acmetonia Grade School (1924-1932) and Springdale High School (1932-1936), before attending Slippery Rock College (1936-1940), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education. His personal interests were photography, riflery, football, basketball, golf, swimming. After college, he took a job as a Secretary and Stenographer with the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh (1940-1941), then left in 1941, to join the Navy Air Corps. Aviation Cadet Michael Klimenko, United States Naval Reserve, was Honorably Discharged "for failure to qualify for further flight training", as confirmed by a letter he received from the Navy Department, Bureau of Navigation, Washington, D.C., dated August 8, 1941. Klimenko went to Canada and signed his RCAF Attestation Paper on September 24, 1941, at No. 17 Equipment Unit in Ottawa, Ontario, naming his next-of-kin as his father, stating that he was an American citizen, that he spoke English and Russian fluently, that he had previously been with the Navy Air Corps in Pensacola, Florida as an Aviation Cadet in 1941 but left due to his failure to complete flight training, that he had not previously applied to the RCAF for admission, that he was single and his occupation as "Not Employed", although he states his occupation in other paperwork as Steel Worker and Flying Aviation. He also declared that he was in debt to the tune of $250 in regards to his car and that he had 35 hours Solo and 40 hours Dual flying experience in the United States before joining the RCAF and had completed twelve out of thirteen weeks Ground School Training with the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He was admitted to the RCAF as an Aircraftman 2nd Class with Standard General Duties at No. 17 Equipment Unit in Ottawa. Three months later, he was transferred to the ITS (Initial Training School) at Toronto, Ontario on December 21, 1941. In his RCAF Report of Pupil Pilot - Flying and Ground Training, dated February 17, 1942, it notes that in his initial training in Toronto, Course No. 43 (December 22, 1941 to February 14, 1942), he scored 805 out of 1,000 (81%). It also documented him as having "Good education, capable, serious, dependable and co-operative. Above average", along with suggesting he would be "Second Aircrew Recommendation: Wireless Operator Air Gunner", and that he be passed to No. 7 EFTS in Windsor. It went on to give insights into his character, in regards to his flying discipline: "This student is a good pilot but is too conceited about his flying ability. Average on instrument and has no real outstanding faults in open hand flying, sometimes careless about small details." He had attained his training on a Fleet Finch, totalling: Dual (32:05) and Solo (30:00). Another report stated that he was "Vigorous and rather over confident at times. Rough and ready type. Has to be kept in check, but a good aggressive type. Leadership qualities will be good when cockiness disappears and he becomes more reliable." While at ITS Toronto, he was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on February 13th. Klimenko was transferred to No. 7 EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) in Windsor, Ontario on March 1, 1942 for ten weeks, then transferred to No. 2 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) in Uplands, Ontario on May 10, 1942. He was to see his final transfer on August 28, 1942, this time to No. 1 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Bagotville, Quebec, where he was awarded his Pilot's Flying Badge and named Temporary Sergeant the same day. By September 20th, Klimenko's flight experience totals in the RCAF on three aircraft consisted of: Harvard (195:20), Fleet (72:15) and Hurricane (3:25). Klimenko crashed two weeks after earning his "Wings", when the Harvard MK. IIb FE387 he was piloting "spun in after taking a steep turn". Although the day provided good visibility for formation flying during a standard training flight, he was killed as the result of the flying accident, two miles south of St. Felix d'Otis, Quebec at 19:45 GMT, the plane burning after the crash, on September 20, 1942, at the age of 23. Also also killed was M.E. Meier, who had no flight experience and was on his first passenger flight. Klimenko's body arrived by rail in Pittsburgh and was accompanied by a military escort and returned to his parents in Cheswick, Pennsylvania. He is buried in Cheswick (Deer Creek) Cemetery, Grave Reference: Sec. O. Div. 3. Lot 106. In his Will, dated September 25, 1941, he stated that "I Give, Devise and Bequeath unto Helen & Matvey Klimenko, Mother & Father, of Springdale, Pa., all my Estate." An inquiry opened on September 22, 1942 at Bagotville, Quebec, by order of Group Captain V.S. Parker, DFC, AFC and was later re-opened on October 26th. Fourteen witnesses were called: twelve from the RCAF and two civilians. As noted, Kilmenko was piloting the Harvard MK. IIb FE387. Observations at the crash site assessed the extent of the damage to the aircraft as "totally destroyed", with damage to the Pratt and Whitney Wasp R-1340-AN-1 engine, RCAF No. Ac42-695, Maker's No. 15831 stated as "seriously damaged". The investigator noted that "The aircraft was found in such a damaged condition that no material facts were obtained from the visit except that the aircraft struck at an angle of about 45 degrees from a south easterly direction." It was also noted that Klimenko was "Suspected (of) low flying, but due to insufficient evidence impossible to state definitely." The report also stated that circumstances were as such: "Suspected low flying in formation when A/C FE387 broke formation and started into a shallow dive towards the ground, crashed and burst into flames." The conclusion they came to in regards to the accident: "Evidence of third witness suggests breach of low flying regulations but due to type of witness and evidence of first and second witness, it is not confirmed other alternative engine or airframe failure." Preventative measures were suggested: "Impress all pilots with necessity of bailing out after engine failure over impossible country." Klimenko was posthumously awarded the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for his war service, the medals going to his father, his parents receiving the Ministerial Card and Royal Message upon his death which were forwarded by the government on September 25 and October 30, 1942, respectively, while his mother was forwarded his Memorial Cross on the October 15th, as presented here for sale.
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