Ralph William Henry Kloepper

Long before the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. servicemen were being killed.

Ralph William Henry Kloepper was born on 16-OCT 1915 in Randolph County, Illinois. He was the son of Gustave Kloepper(1893-1975) and Elizabeth Kloepper,( nee Preston)  (1896-1973). He had two sisters, Florence born in 1921 and Alberta born in 1923. In 1940 he lived at 3724 Penrose Ave, St. Louis, Mo. Ralph was killed in action on 31-OCT 1941 in the North Atlantic.

Ralph joined the U.S. Navy in 1940, service #0410068 and was at the U.S. Navy receiving station, Norfolk, Virginia on 31-JAN 1941 after being detached from USS SUMNER (AG-32) an auxiliary survey ship. He was then assigned To USS REUBEN JAMES (DD-245) an older four stack CLEMSON class destroyer commissioned on 24-SEP 1920, with the rank of signalman 3/c. REUBEN JAMES was assigned to the neutrality patrol off Iceland tasked with handing off convoys from the U.S. to the British Royal Navy.

In the early morning hours of 31-OCT 1941 REUBEN JAMES was torpedoed by the German U-Boat, U-552. The torpedo detonated her forward ammunition magazine destroying everything forward on her # 4 stack. The stern sank a few minutes later and some of the depth charges carried there exploded among survivors in the water. One hundred of her crew died and only 44 men survived. Ralph Kloepper was not rescued, and his body was never recovered.

For more of his story, click on the pdf below.

KloepperRalph

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.