Skip to main content

Wesley Arthur Kleinkauf

2LT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C

ASN#1104918 Casualty: Killed

Born 1917 in MT, Died 1944

County of residence at enlistment: Fort Bragg, NC
Other residence(s): Yellowstone County, MN; Tucson, AZ; Raleigh, NC; Detroit, MI; St. Paul, MN
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: chemists, essayists, metallurgists
College education before the war: U. of Arizona (BS and MS); U. of North Carolina
Notes: Before he became an officer his ASN was 34115801. Went to Europe with 86th Replacement Battalion;  Killed in Action in Normandy 28 Jul 1944.
Source: Comment by Howard Holt

NOTE: There were only two American military men dead in World War 2 by the name of Kleinkauf/Kleinkoff/Kleinkopf. The one I have researched here was a lieutenant in the Army and the other was in the Navy. All we have as a source for this individual's presence in the Ghost Army is Howard Holt's comment that he was in the 603rd, a LT, transferred, and KIA. Holt only provided the last name which he spelled as Kleinkoff. He was not in the GA in 1942, because he's not in the Xmas 1942 program. So he was likely in and out in 1943.

Wesley Kleinkauf was born on September 17, 1917 in Billings, MT, the oldest of three children. His father was a farmer, later an insurance agent. The family was living in Yellowstone County, MT in 1920, and sometime in the 1920s they moved to Arizona. Wesley's father died in 1927 leaving his wife and three sons under the age of 10. His mother became a saleswoman to support the family.

Wesley graduated from Tucson High School in 1935, where he played the violin and was active in the First Methodist Episcopal Church. After high school he went on to study chemistry at the University of Arizona. He became a paper carrier for the Arizona Daily Star in 1935, and worked for the paper until he graduated in 1939. He then pursued a master's degree in soil chemistry at the University, and in 1940 was hired by the US Department of Agriculture to work in the agronomy department at the University of North Carolina where he planned to pursue a PhD. Shortly after his arrival in North Carolina he registered for the draft, on October 16, 1940.

He was inducted into the Army on July 7, 1941 at Fort Bragg, NC. His occupation was listed in the category of chemists, assayists, and metallurgists. By April, 1942 he was running the water purification unit at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, HI. That fall he graduated from the Officer Candidate School at the Army Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, VA. At the time he listed his address as Detroit, MI (using his brother Allen's street address).

On December 7, 1942 he married Dorothy Ann Buehring in St. Paul, MN.

It's not known at what time he became a member of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. But he held the rank of LT, so it was definitely after his OCS training.

Photo from Find a Grave.

At some point after his Ghost Army work he became a member of the 86th Replacement Battalion, and went to France with the unit, arriving in Normandy on the third day of the D-Day invasion. His daughter, Ruth Ann, was born on June 18, 1944. He died less than six weeks later, on July 28, 1944, and was buried at a provisional cemetery west of La Cambe in Normandy. By 1948, the US had repatriated two thirds of the Americans buried at La Cambe. 2LT Kleinkauf was brought back to the US in July, 1948 and re-interred at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

NOTE: His widow remarried in 1947, and bore another child in 1950.


1939 college yearbook (see link below)


1920 census

1935 article in the Arizona Daily Star about his musical activities

1938 article in the Tucson Citizen (AZ) about his church activities

1938 article in the Arizona Daily Star about his academic work

1939 college yearbook

1940 census

1940 draft card

1940 article in Arizona Republic about his graduate work

1941 article in Arizona Republic re his graduate degree

1941 enlistment record

1942 article in the Detroit Free Press (MI) re his graduation from OCS at Fort Belvoir (Army Engineer School)

1942 article in the Honolulu Advertiser (HI) re his military career

1944 Minnesota birth record for daughter

1944 Find a Grave record*q1bw5i*_ga*MTE1MjM2NzQwNy4xNjc2NDY0MjE5*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY3NzE1NTE5MC4xMy4xLjE2NzcxNTUyODguMjcuMC4w*_ga_B2YGR3SSMB*NGMzYTg1OTQtMDEwZS00MDA3LWJlMDAtYmYxYzQ2MTk5NDNkLjEyLjEuMTY3NzE1NTI4OS4yNi4wLjA.

1944 US Rosters of World War II Dead

1944-1948 US National Cemetery Interment Control Forms

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!