Joseph Anton Klecak was born in Queens, NY on June 26, 1918. His parents and older sister had emmigrated to the US from Germany shortly prior to that birth. He was the son of Joseph and Louise Klecak and had 4 siblings. Prior to his Navy service, he had been in the New York National Guard from December 17, 1936 until December 16, 1939
He enlisted in the Navy in Brooklyn on March 5, 1942, and was stationed at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. In mid 1942, he was transferred to the Naval Base at Norman, Oklahoma. He reported to the minesweeper, USS YMS-179 on August 28, 1943, having been stateside in New Orleans just prior to that. He stayed on that ship until the end of the war. He was discharged October 20, 1945 at San Pedro, California. He was called back for the Korean War and served at NAS Alemeda from Feb. 1, 1951 until Nov. 23, 1951.
YMS-179 HISTORY: Laid down as YMS-179 on 27 October 1942 by Henry C. Grebe and Co., Chicago, Illinois; launched 8 May 1943; completed, 31 July 1943; and commissioned USS YMS-179 on 28 August 1943 at New Orleans, Louisiana. Departing New Orleans 7 September 1943 she steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, and arrived 13 September for shakedown training in the Chesapeake Bay and final alterations in the Norfolk Navy Yard. She got underway for Key West, Florida, 13 October, assigned to Commander Gulf Sea Frontier at Naval Operating Base Key West, Florida. During the next six months, she was assigned as a convoy escort from Key West making countless voyages along the Gulf Coast with merchant ships and naval auxiliaries. She was sometimes diverted on escort voyages to Havana and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and frequently called at the Florida ports of Miami and Port Everglades. She departed Key West for the last time 16 April 1944 and joined a convoy at Havana for escort to Norfolk. She left the convoy off the coast of Virginia 21 April 1944 and entered the New York Navy Yard the next day for voyage repairs. YMS 179 arrived in Boston Harbor 17 May 1944 for duty under with Northern Group, Eastern Sea Frontier, and operated as a patrol ship off the Boston breakwater. She entered the Norfolk Navy Yard 6 July 1944 to prepare for distant service and cleared Norfolk 24 July.
YMS-179 took part in the invasion of southern France being part of escort of Convoy AM-43 and participaing in mine sweeping operations off Nice and Mentone under enemy fire September 9th through 18th 1944.
A commendation found in his file reads: "The efficient manner in which this man's duties were discharged in connection with mine sweeping operations carried on under heavy fire from shore batteries off the French-Italian Riviera, 9-18 September 1944, is worthy of commendation. His devotion to duty under extremely hazardous conditions which contributed largely to the morale of his shipmates was in the highest traditions of the Naval Service".
His file further states that he is eligible for the American Defense medal, American Area and European-African-Middle Eastern Area (with operation star) campaign medals; plus Good Conduct medal as of March 10, 1945; and authorized to wear Minecraft Shoulder Insignia in accordance with Bupers CL 368-44.
CY Klecak's group includes his WW2 Victory medal, American Defense medal (with box), American Campaign medal (with box from US Mint), European Campaign medal (with box from US Mint), un-named Good Conduct medal with brown envelope marked "Good Conduct" plus his original Minecraft Shoulder Insignia.