Over There: Local Vietnam vet who served on rifle squad dies
By Jean Edwards email@example.com January 23, 2013 5:22PM
John J. Krokar | Submitted photo
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:15AM
U.S. Army veteran John J. Krokar passed away peacefully on Nov. 30, at home following a brief illness. His loving companion, Diana Schmitt, was at his side.
During Krokar’s military service, he was assigned to a rifle squad while serving with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade (Separate) during the Vietnam War.
The 199th Infantry Brigade “Redcatchers” is one of the most overlooked and underrated U.S. infantry units to serve during the Vietnam War. The 199th LIB was not at any time in its history associated with any of the other brigades that fought valiantly with the American Division in I Corps. It was the epitome of U.S. Army Infantry units to fight in Southeast Asia during the American involvement there.
As a rifleman, Krokar operated out of the small village of Long Duc located in the Mekong Delta south of Saigon. He often deployed on Navy landing craft that came down the Song Nha Be from the Navy base at Nha Be.
They would transport his platoon-sized groups down the river deeper in the Mekong Delta for an early morning cordon and search of a remote village. Krokar’s company, being under strength at that time, might deploy 85 soldiers in the field for a company-sized search-and-destroy operation.
The challenges of terrain, hostile creatures (like water buffalo) and weather were constant. Some soldiers in his battalion drowned while fully loaded with ammo and gear. Their bodies were never recovered from the dangerous tidal rivers and streams. In addition, there would be constant threats from a variety of booby traps in trees and vegetation and on the trails.
Krokar was a soldier who adapted to each mission and became a highly trusted and competent combat infantryman and in an integral part of an effective fighting unit.
He will be remembered as a wonderful person who generously helped his neighbors and was good to everyone he met.
Krokar was survived by his devoted companion of 20 years, Diana J. ( nee Pirc) Schmitt; a daughter, Gina (Dominic) Peterson of Los Alamos, N.M.; and five grandchildren, Lukas, Samuel, Benjamin, Ethan and Leia Peterson.
Other military news
Cadet Brett Ryan Krueger of Lockport marched in the inaugural parade held for President Barack Obama. He carried the guidon flag. Krueger is a senior from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was chosen by a team of evaluators based on his marching prowess and military bearing. The cadets was the first unit marching under arms.
The USS Chicago Base meeting will be at 1 p.m. Feb. 2 at Tinley Park VFW Hall on Oak Park Avenue.
Jean Edwards is always searching for veterans to write about. She can be reached at 815-773-7172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.