John Paul Kline Jr. started his career with the Marine Corps after graduating from Rice University in 1966. He was commissioned as second lieutenant when he graduated in 1969. Kline finished basic training at Quantico, Virginia, before attending Army Flight School in Texas and Alabama.
As a commander with the 31st Marine Aviation Operation, Kline went to Vietnam in 1971. He patrolled the waters between Vietnam and the Philippines before sweeping mines from a helicopter in Haiphong Harbor. Kline observed the withdrawal from Vietnam at the Fleet Marine Force Pacific Command Center in Hawaii. He decided to stay in the Marine Corps as part of Quantico-based Marine Helicopter Squadron One in 1976.
There, Kline worked for three separate administrations. He was a White House Liaison Officer for President Gerald Ford, where he flew Marine One as a co-pilot and traveled around the world. In 1980, Kline accepted a position as the Marine Corps Aide to then President Jimmy Carter. He stayed on when President Ronald Reagan took office.
After leaving that post in 1982, Kline spent several years at different commanding posts, including executive officer for the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 and commanding officer for the Marine air base squadron. He then spent time at the Army War College and Shippensburg University, earning a master’s degree in 1988 before working at the Pentagon.
After two years working at the Pentagon, Kline commanded Marine Aircraft Group 16. As conditions deteriorated in Somalia, President George H.W. Bush ordered the Marines into Mogadishu as part of Operation Restore Hope. Kline went along as the aviation commander for what he describes as the most rewarding experience of his career. During his command, Kline was in charge of over 2,000 Marines and sailors and suffered no casualties while opening up key roadways for humanitarian aid.
Following Operation Restore Hope, Kline retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel in 1994.
Kline received several awards during his career, including a Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Badge, three Vietnam Service Medals, Vietnam Campaign Medal and a Presidential Service Badge.
Motivated by his military service, Kline decided to run for Congress in 1998 and eventually won in 2002, representing the 2nd District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives until 2017.
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