WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Fred Jepson was just one of two million Americans to serve in the Korean War. KSN News recently met Fred as he traveled on Kansas Honor Flight 88.
Fred Jepson kindly waved, as a room filled with applause for the war veteran.
“I was just hoping that people would appreciate what we were doing to keep our country free.”
Jepson’s grandson Heath pushed his wheelchair at the World War II Memorial, where they paid tribute to the greatest generation and those who fought more than 100 years before the great war at Fort McHenry.
From the United States Navy Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery, Jepson and his grandson saw so much on the trip.
“It just kind of brings back a lot of memories.”
It was nearly 70 years ago when he boarded a ship with everything they needed for war.
He made friends. They played cards and watched the waves crash by. it was a long journey to Korea
“It’s been about 70 years since we was over there.”
Then, Jepson finally got to see the memorial in their honor.
“It just almost brought tears to my eyes that they remembered us.”
He was part of the 45th Infantry Division.
“I was an ammo truck driver, but I saw a lot of this kind of stuff going on, too.”
They were near the 38th parallel, which formed the border between North and South Korea before the Korean War.
“I would haul ammo up to the front lines,” said Jepson. We had three platoons up there.”
The young soldier distinctly remembers one trip, right around Christmas.
“The day that we went up on the front lines. First guy stepped on a mine, and that took care of him.”
Jepson saw the true toll of war and say he tried to avoid the enemy and made their supply runs at night.
We would kind of have to go with no lights on. Trucks had no heaters in them.”
They had to get creative to stay warm in 40-degree below weather.
“I took the Stars and Stripes magazine, and I ripped that thing up, wadded it up and stuck it in between. I had two pair of fatigues on and two pair of long underwear.”
For Jepson, the Honor Flight brought all kinds of memories. He was blown away by his recent invite to travel to Washington with his grandson.
“That’s the best thing I have ever had happen to me in my life.”
Jepson said the welcome home was more than he could imagine.
“It was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”
A welcome home fit for a former soldier with handshakes, salutes, handmade signs, and many thank yous.
“They were clapping, saluting, and kissing.”
Jepson said it was nice to know their sacrifices in the Korean War will not be forgotten.
“We were doing something to preserve our freedom in this country.”
To learn more about the program, click on Kansas Honor Flight.