Home | Cold War Turns Hot | The Armed Forces Integrate | What the Experts Say

The Cold War Turns Hot
part: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The Brothers Krepps See Combat

Vincent Krepp at the Maryland Korean War memorial
Photo by Steve Schapiro
By August, 1950, U.N. forces had been backed into the southeastern corner of South Korea, around the port of Pusan. It was then, in mid-August, that Vincent Krepps and his twin brother Richard landed with the 2nd Infantry.

The brothers had joined the Army, and gone to the fight, eagerly, Vince says. They'd watched the last war on the big screen.

"My image of war was what I seen in World War II, a lot of love stories and we won the battles. And people got killed, but you know all the wars had great endings."

The Krepps' green, ill-prepared unit spent thirteen quiet days at the front, watching the enemy across the Naktong River. Then, just after dark on August 31st, "mortar and artillery came raining in on us."

The North Koreans crossed the river and encircled Krepps's unit on surrounding hills. By morning Vince found himself pinned in a ditch, bullets 'cutting the grass' overhead. An officer ordered him to make a run for help. That meant a zigzagging sprint to an abandoned tank on the road. Then a wild drive in search of friendly forces.

"If you was ever in a tin shed during a hail storm you know what it sounded like. They were hitting my tank with everything they could hit. I could see bursts, explosions in front of me."

Further down the road, Vince stopped to help other soldiers load badly wounded Americans onto a truck. "Their chests was just laid open, blood all over them, you know. Some of them had their face blown away, arms tore off of them - I wasn't ready for any more combat, I'll be honest with you. I'd seen enough already at that time."

Vince's actions earned him a Silver Star for gallantry. His brother Richard survived that battle, too. A week later, the brothers got a present: they were assigned to pull guard duty together.

"We spent the whole three or four days - we were together talking about what we'd experienced, and home, and enjoying each other's company. Then pretty soon a call came from the front for a driver that had been wounded, and my brother was called back. And this time when we hugged and said our goodbyes" - Vince pauses to contain emotion that wells up at the memory - "we knew, you know, that we might never see each other again. We knew what it was all about now.

"That's the last time I seen him."

Next: MacArthur's Bold Move

©2018 American Public Media