Nearly 100 cars and motorcycles were part of a cruise in celebration of a Second World War veteran who recently turned 97.
Red Deer’s Frank Krepps was a dispatch rider during the Second World War, which means he delivered orders by motorcycle for the Royal Canadian Engineers, as part of the Canadian Army.
Last year, Krepps became an honorary member of the Mount Sorrel unit of 3 CAV, a national veteran-based motorcycle-riding club.
On Wednesday, Krepps was brought to the home of the Red Deer-based unit’s president, where people drove by to wish him a happy belated birthday – his birthday was in late-June.
Bill Nelson, one of the celebration organizers and a member of the local unit, says he’s honoured to know Krepps.
“It’s such a pride to be around a man who has experienced so much and relay that to the people around him. He’s got many years serving the Legion through volunteer work. He’s done a lot for the community of Red Deer,” said Nelson.
Nelson says after seeing a story in the Red Deer Advocate about Krepps heading to France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, he reached out to the veteran.
The two met and Krepps was made an honorary lifetime member of the unit.
“He’s our bragging trophy,” Nelson said.
“His road name is Hell On Wheels. That was given to him during the war – he was wounded over there.”
Nelson says Krepps also just went through chemotherapy amid a battle with throat cancer.
“He’s firing on all cylinders. He does his exercises, stretching and weight-lifting every day. He’s a pretty tough guy.”
Krepps grew up on a Saskatchewan farm. He enlisted in the army in 1941, as an antidote to the Great Depression. His two brothers and a sister had also decided to serve overseas.
At the time, he was 17 years old and game for anything. But not long after becoming a dispatch rider, he realized war wasn’t exactly a carefree exploit.
“When you’re on a motorbike, you’re on your own. If you survive, it’s by the grace of God…,” Krepps told the Advocate in a previous interview.
He served in France, Holland and Germany, and returned when the war ended in 1945.
In 2018, he received the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, which is France’s highest honorific order for military and civil merit.
Many participants in Wednesday’s celebration wore shirts that read, “Our veterans fought for us, now it’s our turn.” The shirts were made by Red Deer Cruise Night and Can Praxis.