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1st Lt Constant J Kjems

1st Lt Constant J Kjems

134th Infantry Regiment - Company A

Constant Joseph Kjems, son of Christian Peter and Hortense Marie (Vergauwen) Kjems, was born November 7, 1914 in Antwerp, Belgium. His family immigrated to the United States arriving in New York aboard the SS Mercier on October 11, 1923. He registered for the draft October 16, 1940. At that time he was living in Queens, New York and working at McAllister Brothers Tug Boat Company in New York City. His draft record lists him as 6' 2" tall, weighing 184 pounds, with grey eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion. He was inducted into the Army on August 8, 1942 at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. According to his enlistment record he was single, with 4 years of college and working as a foreman in manufacturing. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 2, 1942 while stationed at Camp Croft, South Carolina in the 26th Infantry Training Battalion.

2nd Lt Constant J Kjems joined the 134th Infantry Regiment in 1943 and served in Company A. He landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on July 5, 1944. At that time he was Platoon Commander, Second Platoon. He suffered shrapnel wounds July 15, 1944 during the battle for St Lo, France but he remained on duty. He was awarded a Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action during that battle. He assumed command of Company A and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on August 21, 1944. He was Killed in Action September 20, 1944 just north of Nancy, France. 1st Lt Constant J Kjems is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery, Saint-Avold, France.

Silver Star Medal

Silver Star Medal Citation

Second Lieutenant Constant J Kjems, O1325579, Infantry, United States Army, for gallantry in action in the St Lo Sector during the period 15-21 July 1944. On 15 July during the action on Hill Number 122 in the operations against St Lo, Lieutenant Kjems was wounded in the face and arm by shell fragments. Disregarding his personal discomfort, he continued to lead his platoon throughout the day's activity and that night, after receiving treatment at a battalion aid station, returned to take command of his platoon, serving in that capacity until 19 July when he assumed command of his company when his superior officers were suffering from battle fatigue. During 20-21 July he voluntarily and on numerous occasions made personal reconnaissance of the area along the Vire river, obtaining information of the enemy which resulted in the directing and adjusting of our artillery fire against enemy positions in that locality. The gallantry in action, zeal, tenacity of purpose, and leadership in battle as displayed by Lieutenant Kjems in this operation reflects credit upon the military service. Entered military service from New York.

General Orders No. 16, Headquarters 35th Infantry Division, 8 August 1944

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