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Stanley Clasen

Friday, July 17, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Stanley Max Clasen, who was raised on a farm in Le Mars, died June 12, 2009, in Washington, D.C. of aortic stenosis and kidney failure. He was 92 years old.

An electrical engineer, whose division spent more time on the battlefields of Europe and Africa than any other during World War II, Mr. Clasen was a ham radio operator (Call letters: WA3LKF) and lifelong tinkerer.

He was working as a radio technician when -- days after the attack on Pearl Harbor -- his National Guard Unit (made up of Iowa, Minnesota and Dakotas) was placed in federal service Dec. 10, 1941. The outfit was known as the 34th Infantry Division or "Red Bulls."

Mr. Clasen's signal company furnished communication for the Red Bulls' infantry division. They spent 46 months on overseas duty - longer than any division -- as well as sustaining the most casualties, and engaging in more battle days, 650, than any other unit.

Their odyssey began with the invasion of Algiers in November 1942, followed by grueling combat with Field Marshall Erwin Rommel in Tunisia in May 1943, before joining in the Italian campaign in Salerno and fighting throughout Italy in Monte Cassino, Anzio, Bologna and across the Po River, where they captured 40,000 Germans in one haul.

Promoted to Technical Sergeant, Mr. Clasen received a battlefield commendation for devising a remote control radio repair system which kept communications operating during battle. His proudest accomplishment, however, was his 70-year lifetime membership in the American Radio Relay League.

He was also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Inc.

At the war's end, he received a bachelor's degree in 1948 from Iowa State University in Ames in electrical engineering. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1952, where he worked for the Harry Diamond Laboratories, an Army weapons research branch. He worked on developing the proximity fuze, which vastly increased the effectiveness of bombs and shells by causing them to explode near their target, rather than requiring a direct hit.

He retired in 1980. In retirement, Mr. Clasen became a DC activist, working with Tenant Associations in support of rent control, often distributing leaflets at District Metro stops and other locations.

In addition to his wife of 42 years, Nancy Chimera Clasen, survivors include a brother, James Robert Clasen of Le Mars.

Stanley Clasen will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery July 28.