Mr. Fred Kroin Jr. – Navy, WWII and Koreaa
Fred was born the oldest of four kids on 2/13/1923. In May of 1941 he enlisted in the Navy for six years and saw the beginning of WWII and the Korean War.
Only two weeks before the end of his mechanical training, war broke out and changed all his future plans of life in the Navy. He was first put into the torpedo squadron, then into aircraft repair. Fred says that life aboard the ship felt much safer than being with a plane.
He spent time in Alaska where he had to heat the aircraft parts before working on them and suffered from frostbite on his hands from winds 40-60 mph. He slept in a hut in double sleeping bags with no other defense from the bitter cold. He later experienced the complete opposite with desert heat making the planes hot enough to fry eggs on.
Working as an airplane mechanic had its trying times for Fred especially when the pilots returned with a worn-out plane and needed repairs done within 30 minutes, to be ready for take-off. The planes were worn out, but still flew. He recalls one funny time when a frozen spider was put on the dash of a plane; when it fell on the pilot all heck broke loose.
Fred visited Pearl Harbor after the end of the war and said to swim in the water was at your own risk. There was so much oil in the water that ear infections (and other types of infections) were a common threat. Fred states that he had a lot of experiences that he would never regret or trade.
After leaving the Navy he married and began a 30-year career as a mechanic with TWA Airlines in Kansas City. His wife passed away in 1985 and Fred remarried in 1992 to a lady he had known in grade school named Estelle. They still live in Independence, and Fred is active in the VFW Honor Guard where he and others serve their fellow veterans by honoring them at funeral services. Fred believes staying busy keeps him in good health, as his mother did living to the age of 102.
Fred’s military history may be viewed in the Veterans Hall at the Parks and Recreation Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple.
– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans submitted by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence.