World War II historian Jiří Klůc is shown with WWII veteran Gordon Emmons on July 1, 2024, in Marion, Iowa. Emmons, who served in the Navy, was among 25 veterans Klůc met during his week in Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Note: If you know of a World War II veteran living in Iowa or nearby states, contact Jiří Klůc on his Facebook page or email:

Jiří Klůc is in a race against time.

The World War II historian, a doctoral student at Charles University in Prague, traveled to Iowa in late June to conduct research and interview surviving WWII veterans for his dissertation.

Klůc visited the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo; Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids and Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and traveled to Iowa City, Marion, Lisbon and several other towns to see veterans during his short time in Iowa.

World War II historian Jiří Klůc takes a photo of memorabilia after interviewing a WWII veteran in Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

In just one week, Klůc met with 25 veterans, but learned about others during his time in the state, before his return trip to the Czech Republic in early July.

“We are not done with our work here,” he said, before boarding his flight.

Read more: Czech historian gathers stories of WWII veterans

Jiří Klůc takes a photo of WWII veteran Bob Nejdl during his trip from the Czech Republic to Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Some of the veterans Klůc interviewed had never told their stories, and as a historian, he realizes the importance of preserving that history for the veterans’ families and future generations.

He also knows that time is of the essence, having learned of several veterans within weeks or even days of their deaths.

Less than 1 percent of the 16.4 million Americans who served during World War II are still alive today.

That makes it even more important to gather stories of veterans such as Clarence Boesenberg, 97, who was drafted at age 19 and chose to become a Navy medic.

Clarence Boesenberg of Cedar Rapids shows a photo taken during his time in the U.S. Navy. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

“I thought saving lives was better than destroying lives, so I wanted to be a medic,” said Boesenberg, who still serves his community as a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

While the Cedar Rapids man did not see combat, others were more dramatic, such as the story of Mike Bisek, now 101, who parachuted with the rest of his crew from their B-24 bomber over Nazi-occupied France during a final bombing mission.

Bisek’s story is what initially drew Klůc to Iowa, with support from the Cedar Rapids-based Czech Heritage Foundation.

Members of the Czech Heritage Foundation Royal Court greet World War II veterans Mike Bisek, at right, and Bob Nejdl, seated, during a June 27 presentation at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Klůc honored Bisek and WWII veteran Bob Nejdl, 99, both of Czech descent, during a June 27 presentation at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library to a standing-room-only crowd.

He would like to do the same for even more veterans and gather more of their stories before it’s too late, and is hoping to find organizations or individuals willing to sponsor a return trip to Iowa and surrounding states.

“Most importantly, we’re paying our respects to these heroes,” Klůc said. “They deserve to be honored.”

Reach Klůc on his Facebook page or email:

World War II historian Jiří Klůc takes a photo of Dean Moel after interviewing the WWII veteran in Lisbon, Iowa. (photo/Cindy Hadish)