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Obituary Stories

Vietnam veteran drove charter bus, put family first

Stephen Huba
| Thursday, May 24, 2018, 11:03 p.m.

Jimmy Kline was a Vietnam veteran who, like a lot of other veterans, didn't talk too much about his wartime experiences.

Mr. Kline earned the Purple Heart after being shot during a helicopter engagement. He was a helicopter gunner with the Army's 608th Transportation Company, 14th Transportation Battalion, from 1968 to 1969.

“They just patched him up and sent him back out,” said his wife, Sue Kline.

He didn't talk about those experiences in later years, but he did open up while watching the 2017 documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, she said.

“He and a few of his friends that were (in Vietnam) also would talk together among themselves,” she said. “They did say that the documentary did show what was really going on.”

James C. Kline Jr., of Adamsburg died Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at UPMC Shadyside. He was 72.

Born in Wilkinsburg on May 12, 1946, he was the son of Julia Kline, of Trafford, and the late James C. Kline Sr.

He graduated from Trafford High School in 1964 and was attending California University of Pennsylvania when he got drafted. He did his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and then was sent to Fort Rucker in Alabama.

In between assignments, he returned home and proposed to his future wife. They wed on June 21, 1969.

When Mr. Kline returned to the States, he and his wife settled down in Adamsburg and had three children.

He was hired as a purchasing agent for the Williams Co. in Pittsburgh. He then took a job with Gongaware Bus Lines, a company owned by Mrs. Kline's father and uncle.

“Jimmy thought he'd help out and do what he could,” she said, noting that he drove a school bus for Penn-Trafford and a charter bus.

The charter buses took tours to locations such as Iowa, Florida and Canada.

“He was gone from home a lot of the time, but he had so many interesting groups and wonderful people (on board), so it was OK,” his wife said. “He put his family first, even with all that time spent away from home.”

He retired after 30 years with the charter service and later took a job as a seasonal caretaker at Brush Creek Cemetery.

Mr. Kline also was an avid Pittsburgh Pirates fan and a season ticket holder.

He was preceded in death by a sister.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, Kirsten Smith and her husband, Jerry, of New Stanton, Courtney Williams and her husband, Brian, of Ruffsdale, and Christopher Kline and his wife, Mandy, of Virginia Beach, Va.; five grandchildren; aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Friends may call from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at John M. Dobrinick Funeral Home, 702 Seventh St. (Route 130), Trafford. Additional visitation will be from 10 a.m. until the time of service at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 126 W. Pennsylvania Ave., New Stanton. Interment with military honors will follow in Brush Creek Cemetery, Hempfield.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mark Lutheran Church, 126 W. Pennsylvania Ave., New Stanton, PA 15672, or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, River Walk Corporate Center, 333 E. Carson St., Suite 441, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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