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November 10, 2011     Tri-County News
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Pa00e 8 Veterans' Da00" Salute Thursday, November 10,2011 Tri-County 0000all::MN .... Joseph N. Krippner, U.S. Army Sergeant, Chief of Section, Gun Section 4 Battery 'A", 547th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, Automatic Weapons, Mobile Unit 95th Infantry Division, Patton's Third Army By Ioseph N. Krippner I was inducted into the Army on a cold day on Jan. 20, 1943, at Fort Snelling, Minn. They got us up every morning at 4 o'clock (:0400 hours, Army time). We had to shovel snow and sweep the side- walks, ate breakfast, and had to be back in the barracks at :0700 hours to see if our name was on the shipping list to be moved out. Finally, after one week, we got our orders on a Satur- day morning to pack: going to California. Boy, were we excited, going to a warm cli- mate. There were 17 of us going to Camp Haan, Calif. We left St. Paul's Union Station at about 9:00 p.m. Saturday night. It took three nights and two days to get to Camp Haan, of course this was all by train travel. It was nice and warm when we got there; the flowers were blooming, we thought we were in heaven. Camp Haan was about 15 miles south of Riverside and it was right across the highway from March Air Force Base. They tell me what was Camp Haan is now part of March Air Force Base also. Riverside is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. At Camp Haan we got our basic train- ing in the forenoon and anti-aircraft train- ing in the afternoon. We were assigned to the 547th AAA AW Bn MU (40 mm guns) which was a new outfit that had just been activated. In March 1943, we went to Camp Irvin (now Fort Irvin) which was the firing range for anti-aircraft. Camp Irvin is about 150 miles northeast of Riverside. We were there until June 1943. We went back to Camp Haan. We all got 12-day furloughs to go home. Imagine spending six nights and four days of that traveling to go home, but it was worth it. When we got back, we were supposed to go overseas, but the Army had other plans. They had a new weapon that they wanted to have tested on maneuvers; it was the M51, four 50-cal. machine guns mounted in a tur- ret on atrailer pulled behind a 6x6 truck. After we had this new equipment, they shipped us to C.A.M.A. (California-Arizona Maneuver Area). Our camp now was Camp Ibis, Calif., which is 300 miles east of Los Angeles on the Calif.-Ariz. border; also it was 16 miles north- west of Needles, Calif. On maneuvers, I believe we covered every square mile of southern California. At Christmas time, they left 20 percent of the outfit go home for Christmas. I was lucky to be in the 20 percent. Of course, 11 days was not very long with most of the time spent in traveling, but it was nice to be home for Christmas. When we all got back, we went to the firing range again at Camp Irvin. In February '44, our next move was to Muroc Army Air Base which is now called Edwards Air Force Base. (Several of our space ships have landed there.) We were there until May 1944. Here we took our final test before we were to ship overseas. We passed, we all got furloughs, and in August 1944 we boarded a troop train and headed for New York. We got to Camp Shanks, N.Y. We were there one week. We all got our shots and vaccinations. We boarded the English ship Mauretania, fourth largest ship afloat at the time. It took seven days to cross the Atlantic. We sailed above Ireland and came down between Ireland and Scotland. One ship had been torpedoed and was burning. We landed at Liverpool, Eng- land. They took us to Camp Black Shan Moor. There we were issued all new equipment, trucks and guns; it took almost two weeks, then we moved down to Southampton and waited for a Liberty ship to take us across the English Channel. We landed at Utah Beach. We crawled down the rope ladders on the side of the ship. They took us in to shore on L.S.T.s (landing ship, tank) to St. Mbre Eglise, which is in the Cherbourg peninsula. We were attached to the 95th Infantry Division which was assigned to General George C. Patton's Third Army. In the latter part of September '44, we started moving across France, through Paris, and we encountered our first live combat at Arneville, France, which is south of Mitz where the fortified bunkers were. We were told the Germans had enough sup- plies for two years. We tried to take these bunkers at Fort Jean d'Arc and Fort Oriant but in vain; our loss of troops and equip- ment was too high. We encircled them and went on into Germany and Alsace Lorraine. We had all kinds of problems: it rained every day, and their soil is like ours so we got stuck with the equipment; we some- times ran out of gas; and Patton's Third Army traveled too fast for the supply units to keep us supplied. It was on about Nov. 20, 1944, that I injured my left knee. They wanted to put me in the hos- pital, but I fig- ured I might just as well hob- ble around with the gun section. A German burp gun had opened up on us at night while Bill H. and I were filling sand bags. We hit the dirt, and I hit my knee against an out- rigger jack. We fought our way into Saar- lantern, Germany, and held our ground. We had lost a lot of troops and were waiting for replacements, but at about the same time the Battle of the Bulge started (on Dec. 16, 1944), so it took some time to get the men to get our division to full strength. When the division was full-strength and ready, we moved up into the Bat- tle of the Bulge. A divi- sion that had jUSt come -over from the States took our place at Saarlantern. When we got to the Bulge, the bat- tle had mel- lowed down and we were in a mop-up operation. After we were done, we finally got a rest period. We moved to a small town in Belgium by the name of Boirs. We stayed with an older couple that had two daughters who were married. These people got an extra ration of coal because they had American troops staying in their home. We slept upstairs, on the sec- ond floor, and they slept in the basement. They were scared of the V1 and V2 bombs going over at night. You could hear the funny noise they made as they were on their way to London. We stayed here for a total of seven days, so we had to get our dirty clothes washed after four months you had to. We called this couple Papa and Mama, and they loved it. They had 11 boys at one time. When Mama saw that we were going to wash our clothes, she said "No good for Soldat. Mama la-wa- bo (wash) them." Of course we had plenty of soap, and she got by with about half of the soap; we left her have the rest of it. But imagine we all had a duf- fle bag full, and I never threw anything away. When we were in the front lines, they usually brought you a new pair of stock- ings every day, and I never threw the old ones away. When Mama was done washing, we wanted to pay her but she wouldn't take any- thing. But she asked a favor of us: she said she had a niece who was pregnant and the doctor told her to eat oranges. They, of course, couldn't buy any. We were getting a few, so we American heroes gave up our oranges. We also gave these people our leftover rations (canned stuff and flour). We as a gun section of 15 men drew our own rations and cooked our meals. We got tour replacements for our gun section and we were back to full strength, so back to the front lines we went. For the latter part of March 1945, we crossed the Rhine River. Here lots of German soldiers were giving up; they were walking on both sides of the road to our back lines. The Ruhr Valley was just a mop-up operation for us. On April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt died. The captains came and said "This is your last day of combat in Europe." We were now Military Government, and our job now was to round up all DPs (Displaced Persons) and POWs (Prisoners of War) from every country. We had Belgians, English, French. Italian, Polish, Russian, Dutch and Yugoslavian. I worked with the captain as an interpreter: I could speak enough Stea- rns County German to get along. We got as far as Paderborn, Germany, where we set up a camp for Russian POWs in a Ger- man Panzer Caserne (camp). We had 7,000 of them and I felt sorry for them because I heard later that the Russian rulers sent them to Siberia because they were a dis- grace to the Russian people and country [because they had allowed themselves to be taken prisoner]. When this workwas done, theymoved us back into Belgium they made us MPs Police). We also got rid of our equip- trucks and guns. We : were stationed at Mons, which 50 miles south/southwest of Brussels, Belgium. We also took a side trip to see the Mound, the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon's defeat. In August 1945, they started breaking up our outfit, sending us younger to different out- fits and I was one of them. It was hard. We had been together for 31 months. A group of us went to an MP Batal- lion stationed at Chauny, France, is about miles north Paris. This was to go , but war ended Japan so we transferred another MP that was up of fellows had nervous etc. unit was stationed LeMans, France, which is 125 miles west/south- of Paris. Also, about this 14, 1945, I got a that my father had and my wanted me to come Of course, my father buried already before got the telegram. I went to Red Cross Field Direc- it was a long, drawn- Finally, on about 1, 1945, I got my orders go home. I shipped out a camp by the name of Strike on the coast, near France. All the camps the coast where troops assembled to go home the names of cigarette On Dec. 8 we got on the Reno and saild out. We hit every storm that was brewing in the Atlantic Ocean. It took us 18 days. I spent Christmas 1945 on the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to the U.S. Navy: they treated us well, we got a very good meal and a carton of cigarettes for a gift. When we hit New York harbor, the Andrews Sisters came out on a launch and sang all the popular songs to us: Seven is the Time We Leave, I'll Hold You in My Arms, and so on. When we landed at New York, they took us to Camp Shank, the same camp I left from in 1944. They treated us to steak din- ner and a carton of cigarettes every time we went to eat dinner or supper. I shipped out for Camp McCoy, Wisc., where I was discharged on Jan. 2, 1946, and I got home Jan. 3. Joseph N. Krippner was born in July 1922; he was 20 when he was inducted into the Army. He married Isabella Ross- man in June 1946; they had 16 children. Joe died in July 2010 at age 87; Isabella died in April 2011. Joe wrote this story several years ago. Special thanks to the Krippner family for sharing this story and the photos.