Veteran’s life marked by service
Freeman Kleier’s life has been marked by service to others. First to his country, and now to those struggling with hunger in the Ozarks.
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1955 at 18 years old. “We went on our senior trip and I went home the next morning to go to Kansas City to be sworn in.”
Now 78, Kleier said he joined the military because there wasn’t much else to do in the small town of Seymour, Missouri, and he felt it was an expectation as a young, healthy man.
“That’s why I primarily joined, but later on I became more patriotic,” he said.
During his 20-year-career in the Air Force, Kleier was deployed oversees for the Vietnam War. He said he also had the great responsibility and honor of doing maintenance on Air Force One during the administrations of President Dwight Eisenhower, President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford.
After retiring from the military, Kleier worked at Kraft Foods Group in Springfield for 16 years.
Kleier said after retirement, he volunteered with many organizations as a way to give back.
“I just like helping people,” he shared.
His twin brother, and fellow veteran, Leeman Kleier, introduced him to Ozarks Food Harvest.
Over the past 10 months, Kleier has given 222 hours of service to Ozarks Food Harvest, volunteering to sort and repack food twice a week. Leeman Kleier has volunteered with The Food Bank for four and a half years, giving 669 volunteer hours.
“If he was in better health, he would be right here with me,” Kleier said of his brother.
Kleier said he is proud to have served his country in the military and his fellow citizens through volunteer work at Ozarks Food Harvest and other service organizations.
“It gives me satisfaction just to help someone,” he said. “I just feel good about it.”
Kleier recently flew to Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
He said every Veterans Day is important to him, and he is thankful when others take the time to be patriotic and recognize the sacrifice made by those who have served in the military.
“I appreciate if someone says, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Kleier shared. “It means a lot to me.”
Twenty-seven percent of households served by Ozarks Food Harvest include a veteran or active duty serviceperson. This Veterans Day, honor those who have served by making a donation or volunteering for Ozarks Food Harvest. Every $1 donated provides five meals and every volunteer hour given provides 105 meals for those struggling with hunger in the Ozarks.