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Sergeant Kenneth Lionel Krom

James Houck

Sargent Kenneth Lionel Krom USA
8/8/1947 - 8/18/1968
A Company 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 25th INF Div.
Place of death: Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam

Sergeant Kenneth Lionel Krom, a hometown boy, became a true hero in every sense of the word 42 years ago. Kenny's unit had just come in from the field and was resting when they were attacked. Two men in his unit were hit and in the open. Kenny didn't know if they were wounded or dead, but wasn't going to leave them in the open. So, he and another soldier went to bring them to cover and were hit my incoming mortar. Kenny did not survive the attack. Sergeant Krom was the only graduate of Emmitsburg High School to lose his life in the Vietnam War.

Ken's mother, Mrs. Berry Krom said, "Ken (as she called him) was a very good baby. I had no problems raising him. He was a normal kid with a normal childhood playing with friends and going to school. He was a kid that would do anything for you. He did well in school and strove to be the best at whatever he chose, be it scholastic, shop, or sports.

Ken had one brother, Ronnie, who was two years older than him. Even though there was the usual sibling rivalry, Ken looked up to Ronnie. Ronnie had a bread route while he was in high school and when he had to give it up, Ken took over.

Ken's first vehicle was a black Corvair van that he used for the bread route. He would pick the bread up at Smith's Bakery in Ladysburg, MD and deliver it house to house to all of his customers. He also worked for Lawrence Basler doing farm work while he was in high school. Ken graduated from Emmitsburg High School with the class of 1965.

After graduating he went to work for a construction company helping to build the brick plant in Rocky Ridge. After wrecking his Corvair van he bought an old, brown panel truck to drive to work. His next job was with Moore's Business Forms in Thurmont. While working there he saved enough money to buy a blue 1966 Chevelle convertible. It was his pride and joy. He really took care of that car. He was always washing and polishing it. Ken worked at Moore's until he was drafted. Ken was engaged to Marie Devilbliss, but never made it back to marry her."

When Kenny was drafted, his brother Ron was finishing up his own tour in Japan where he served in the military police.

"Kenny was almost always positive." His brother Ron said. " He was a fun loving, boy. We grew up in a loving, close-knit family. We fished a lot and played along the Monocacy River, which ran close to where we lived.

A lot of our childhood was spent swimming and fishing there. We would dip for suckers at Stony Branch. Our nearest neighbor lived about a mile away and we would go to their farm to play. All the kids would find eggs in the hay loft where the bantam chickens would lay them. We would have egg fights and they would really sting when you got hit in the face.

Being boys and brothers, Kenny and I would get into scraps. Even though Kenny was younger and smaller, he was a tough kid. Sometimes Kenny would win, but even if I won, I still lost because I would get in trouble for picking the fight and have to cut weeds for a couple of days as punishment. Kenny loved driving tractors and anytime there was a job to do with one, he wanted to do it. He would haul sawdust, which was used as bedding for cattle, from Smith's Sawmill in an old cart that was ready to fall apart.

We used to play baseball in our uncle Jim's field using cow patties as bases. Kenny never did homework, but always managed to pass his tests and from grade to grade without difficulty.

The last time I talk to Kenny was in South Carolina in April of 1968. I was at home in Walkersville when the call came from the U.S. Army about Kenny's death. The whole family was in shock from the call. Kenny's body was sent to a funeral home in Thurmont, MD. There was to be no viewing of the body, but our father, Guy Krom, insisted he wanted to see for himself that the body was definitely Kenny. The funeral director tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail. I accompanied our father when he went to view Kenny's remains. You could tell that it was him, but after seeing him, our father was never the same after that. "

Gary Valentine, a neighbor, classmate, and friend of Kenny remembers Kenny as "...quite a character. He was funny, intelligent, and very giving. He liked the three Stooges and did a perfect impersonation of Curly. He was fun to be with and spent a lot of time at my father's farm.

We lived about a mile apart and spent most of our time along the Monocacy River fishing and swimming. We were known as the "river rats." We played a lot, but also had daily chores to get done before playtime. We graduated in 1965.

The last time I remember seeing Kenny was at the drive-in movies in Bridgeport, MD. I joined the U.S. Air Force, became a pilot, I was stationed in Japan. I found out about Kenny's death when I called home and my dad told me. I was taken aback and had a lot of questions. It had happened a couple of days before and they had just gotten word. It kind of let the wind out of my sails."

Gerry Orendorff, another classmate and friend of Kenny's remembers Kenny as "a kid who was always fun to be with. After he got his driver's license and took over Ronnie's bread route, I would ride along and help with deliveries. We did a lot of fishing and gigging at night. We got a lot of fish and frogs. All of us kids practically lived at the river because we didn't have any money to do anything. Even if we did have money, there was nothing to do in our rural area. Our river excursions were very pleasurable.

When Rocky Ridge had a festival we would get a quarter from our dads to buy a bottle of pop and maybe have enough left to play a game of some kind. I was with Kenny when the transmission from his van dropped on his trigger finger. After that he couldn't bend it. I thought that would keep him from being drafted, but the army said he could use another finger to pull the trigger. He also had a trick knee that would give out when he was playing ball and sometimes just walking along, but he passed the Army physical anyway. He was proud to be in the U.S. Army and was determined to make the best of it."

Sergeant Kenneth Lionel Krom - a true a hometown boy, American hero

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