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Red Deer veteran given highest honour from France

Red Deer Advocate - 12/6/2018

One Red Deer veteran says he had the loneliest job during the Second World War, and now he has been recognized for it.

Richard Franklin Krepps, who goes by Frank, has been awarded "the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour."

Krepps, 95, said he feels proud. He left to serve overseas in 1941 and returned after the war ended in 1945. During that period, he was in France, Holland and Germany.

The French National Order recognized Krepps' "personal involvement" in liberating France during the war, a courtesy translation letter states.

"Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all your compatriots who came to liberate French soil," the letter states.

"I gave France their freedom, it's a freedom medal," explained Krepps from his home Wednesday.

Guy Black, a B.C. volunteer who helps veterans achieve this honour, said the Legion of Honour is France's highest decoration and is equal to the Order of Canada.

He said living Canadian veterans who helped liberate France between June and August 1944 may be eligible for the recognition.

Krepps was a dispatch rider, delivering orders for the Royal Canadian Engineers, as part of the Canadian Army during the Second World War by motorcycle.

"Come hell or high water, I had to do it," he said about delivering orders and messages. What those orders were is something Krepps never knew.

Remembering the hard times, the Saskatchewan-born veteran said he was on his own while performing his job.

"I was scared, I was alone. I had the loneliest job there was," he said, adding, "I rode my motorcycle on my own and lonely."

The ride wasn't smooth, and sometimes, he was riding on for 30 or 40 miles.

"Main roads were full of shell holes and I had to get by – I was the best rider there was," he said with a chuckle.

The veteran had protective gear, such as goggles and a leather jacket, but there was one instance when Krepps was wounded and ended up in hospital.

"I got a shrapnel in the eye," he said. "For some reason, I didn't have my goggles on … but the doctor who operated on me, he was a good surgeon."

The veteran was unconscious and does not remember how he got to the British hospital.

Despite the eye injury, the hospital trip brought some joy. After he was treated, the veteran found his older brother Rex, who worked at a Canadian hospital in an administrative capacity.

"After I got out, I found out where he was and he said 'Frank how did you find me?' and I said, 'To be a dispatcher means I can find anyone,'" he said with a smile.

After that, Krepps gave a motorcycle ride to his older brother.

"I chose the best road there was all full of shell holes," he said with a chuckle.

The veteran has been a Red Deer resident since 2013.