JOHN VAN R. KLUEGEL, USPH
John Kluegel '28
Date of birth: July 16, 1904
Date of death: December 10, 1941
John Van Rensselaer Kluegel was admitted to the Naval Academy from California on July 10, 1923 at age 18 years 0 months.
He was originally appointed with the Class of 1927; on September 5, 1924 he was moved back to the Class of 1928. This didn't last long, because he resigned on October 24, 1924.
John was lost on December 10, 1941 when he was killed by a Japanese infantryman during the invasion Guam.
The seventy-one construction men at Guam, which was not fortified, were taken into Jap custody with only one tragic incident. One man, John Kluegel, of Honolulu, apparently figuring the forces had given up, rushed nervously out to surrender. A Jap soldier, also nervous, promptly bayoneted Kluegel to death.
Among the men whose blood was spilt at the Plaza and its periphery was … J. Kluegel, an American civilian.
He is identified as "CPNAB, Public Works employee" here, under the title "American Civilian".
CPNAB = Contractors, Pacific Naval Air Base. Much more on the history of the contractors is here.
John is listed with his classmates and the "service" of "USPH" — have been unable to determine what this stands for or refers to. He is also listed on the killed in action scroll in the front of Memorial Hall. He is not listed with Navy overseas casualties.
He is buried in Guam.
From the February 1942 issue of Shipmate (after his death):
JOHN ""JACK" KLUEGEL, '28, writes from Agana, Guam:
"While about sixteen years have passed since I left the Academy you may remember me as "Barney" Kluegel in the second batt. After leaving Crabtown I finished up at the University of California and Stanford Law School. Then went to Hawaii where I lived until coming to Guam this spring. It is good to be back with the Navy, even though temporarily, and I have had a swell time renewing former friendships with classmates and others who were at the Academy when I was there.
"With all good personal wishes."
Berkeley Daily Gazette on May 15, 1942:
Lieut. Kluegel Dies in Japan
Death of Lieut. John Kluegel, U.S.N., University of California graduate, while a prisoner of war in Japan, was reported today by his aunt, Miss Lorena Jennings, superintendent of nurses at Mt. Zoin Hospital, San Francisco. Lieut. Kluegel was captured on Wake Island. Word of his death has been sent to his widow, the former Jean Sisson, Oakland, now living in Honolulu with their son.
Lieut. Kluegel received his A.B. degree in history at the University in 1929. He was prominent in student activities while on the campus. He was on the staff of the Daily Californian and was editor of “Pelican,” humor magazine during his senior year. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and of Skull and Keys, Golden Bear, Pi Delta Epsilon, Iota Sigma and Hammer and Coffin honor societies.
He transferred to the University from Annapolis.
Note: The report of Wake Island, which occurs elsewhere, is a mistake. In addition to the reports and his letter of him being in Guam — plus his burial there — Wake was not invaded until after John was killed.
There is also no evidence that he was ever on active duty. He does not appear in any Navy Directory from the period, and his letter says he is only with the Navy "temporarily." Each burial site lists his occupation as "civilian."
The Register of Alumni does not include a rank or date.