Fay Repp was working in the foundry at Maytag Co. when he got the word that he was drafted.
“It was hot and dirty and noisy, but I enjoyed it,” Repp said. “I got drafted. I wasn’t going to volunteer for anything.”
So he took his basic training at Ft. Smith, Ark., and it wasn’t long before he was right in the middle of the action.
“I went right to the front lines,” Repp said. “I didn’t have a rifle, so they said you better get a rifle from one of the dead guys. I got an M-1 from one of the Americans.”
Repp says he ran the Germans out of France and out of England as well.
Repp fought his way across Germany and was getting very close to Berlin when the troops got word that Adolph Hitler had shot himself. He remembers freeing some of the concentration camps in Germany.
“They were just skin and bones,” he said. “They would just give them a slice of bread a day. Some of the men gave them a candy bar or something, and their systems couldn’t handle it. It killed them.”
Repp remembers one incident during his trip across Germany. He found himself alone when two German soldiers came at him with rifles pointed straight at him.
“I knew that if I shot one, the other would shoot me,” he said. “But they surrendered and handed me their weapons.”
Repp took them to his commanding officer, and he remembers sadly the officer taking them out of sight and then hearing two gunshots.
“I was glad I didn’t have to shoot them,” he said. “Some guys would shoot at anyone, but I didn’t like to shoot at anyone who wasn’t shooting at me.”
“We were ready to invade Japan,” he remembers. “We knew they were ready for us. I remember thinking I won’t come back alive. I probably wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t dropped the atomic bombs. We walked right into Japan, and we didn’t fire a shot.”
Guarding prisoners in Japan was another job Repp found unpleasant.
“We would take them out on work details, from one to four prisoners. They said, if they don’t do what you want them to do, shoot them and make sure they’re dead,” he said. “We had to keep 30 feet away from them. We could have shot one and not much would be said.”
After returning to the states, Repp was put on details guarding American prisoners in McPherson, Ga., and then at Camp Gordon, Ga.
“I’d rather guard German soldiers than our own any time,” he said. “We had orders we could shoot them, too.
It was in Georgia that Fay Repp met his future wife, Margaret Autry. The couple has been married for 67 years.
After the war, Repp went back to work at Maytag and the foundry that he loved. He retired in 1976.
John Jennings can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 425 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.