First Orange County COVID-19 victim was WWII hero

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MIDDLETOWN – Benjamin Klein was 33 days shy of his 100th birthday when he passed away this week from complications from the coronavirus.

His son, Tedd Klein of Middletown, remembered his dad as a man who loved his wife, Muriel, and brought him into his profession recycling watch batteries and costume jewelry.

Benjamin Klein

Benjamin Klein was a glider pilot with the Army Air Corps in World War II who earned a Bronze Star, but his son said the real heroes in life are the people who cared for his dad.

“I’ll tell you, the real heroes like the nurses at St. Luke’s, the ambulance driver that took him to the hospital, the people that work at New Windsor (Country Inn), these are the heroes. What they are going through on an hourly basis now is just mindboggling,” he said.

Because COVID-19 highly contagious, Klein and his family will not be allowed to attend his father’s graveside service today and will have to mourn with a “virtual funeral.”