welcomes as our guest Fred Krebsbach author of Okay Okay. Fred
was born in Iowa and has been a farmer, real estate investor, and
systems analyst with IBM.
He earned an electronics degree from United Electronic Institute of Des Moines and a business degree from Rochester Community College. During his service in Vietnam Fred was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, three Army commendations with Valor, One Army commendation, Four Air Medals, Four Service Stars, Four Vietnam Campaign Medals, a Unit Citation and served as a Squad Leader for Special Forces.
Good day Fred and thanks for participating in our interview.
Norm: How did you decide you were ready to write the book OKAY OKAY Holy Sh*T Vietnam?
Fred: It came about over a period of time, from conversations, both formal, and informal with WWII and Korean veterans and them encouraging me to write a book.
My second wife had a surprise birthday party for me and my family noticed a display with rosary dog tags and medals from Vietnam how they knew nothing of my tour. They didn’t know I was wounded or in the hospital a couple of times.
All of a sudden they’re asking questions and I found it hard to talk about, which I thought was strange. Before, no one asked any questions and I didn’t tell.
I felt I should be able to at least talk about it. And finally, my youngest grandson was one month old. That gives you a little more incentive. You’re thinking more about your family.
Norm: What were your
goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you
Fred: To give something to my family and other families. Have no need to stay quiet about Vietnam anymore.
To help spark a conversation. My intentions were to write the book from the perspective of someone looking in and having a conversation back.
Another goal was to do something different from all the other books or anything else about Vietnam by having a spiritual bent to it because it’s something that’s there for all combat veterans.
Did I achieve my goals? Yes, it far exceeded my expectations.
Norm: What was the
most difficult part of writing this book?
Fred: There wasn’t really anything difficult for me. I guess maybe putting together an outline of how I wanted it laid out.
I wanted to make sure I never lost my reader at anytime and thus always wanted it constantly moving. The material was always there.
I just had to bring it to
the surface and started writing.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Fred: Yes I did which I found both interesting and quite surprising.
I wrote a lot about
‘food’. It seemed about every page of the book I mention food in
some way or another. The other thing that I learned was that it was
much harder coming home than I thought at the time. I went over as a
replacement and it seemed I came home as a replacement also. I
couldn’t replace the person I was before.
Norm: What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject that they need to know?
Fred: That there’s a certain group of young men who fight our wars. It was an ill fought war.
You knew immediately it would accomplish nothing. That you went over by yourself and what it took to survive. That we had junk for weaponry. We were led by the uneducated wanting the unwilling to do the unnecessary.
Maybe it’s also the fact that we fought an individual war and we came home by ourselves with no one to bounce things off of.
We didn’t want to talk to anyone. We didn’t want to join anything and no one wanted to talk to us. We were almost ridiculed. “Oh he was in ‘Naaaam’. “Watch out-he was in ‘Naaaam’.”
One other thing was that I
don’t think people really knew what our tactical operations were.
Norm: What was the time-line between when you decided to write your book and publication? What were the major events along the way?
Fred: Probably a couple of years. It took one winter to write it then probably one year to come up with the final manuscript. Probably the most major events were that I didn’t shit can the whole thing on several occasions.
Norm: What process
did you go through to get your book published?
Fred: It was pretty straight forward but was an education. My wife helped me find a publisher and then went through the legal procedures, protocol and standard levels of implementation.
Worked with graphics for
the front cover. Paid all copyright fees and approved the synopsis
for the back cover.
Norm: What makes your book different than the many others concerning the same subject matter?
Fred: You know, I think the book is about us as combat Vietnam veterans and not about me as a combat veteran.
A lot of guys who read the book who were combat veteran said the book was about them. It’s different because it has a spiritual element to it along with the emotional and physical challenges of war.
No politics, no hidden
messages, no ulterior motives, and I’m not revengeful and don’t
hate anyone. I didn’t write any poems or try to pick a fight with
Norm: Do you hear from
your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Fred: Lots of feedback…Battalion Reunion President: honesty comes through on every page without any macho BS.
Some other feedback…a book that finally, finally nails it.
Forget everything else seen in moves or read in books, Okay Okay Holy Sh*t Vietnam does it all.
WWII family member…I now understand my dad and why he was the way he was. Thank You for Okay Okay!
Spouse of a combat veteran…We read Okay Okay Holy Sh*t Vietnam and that is what it took for my husband to talk.
We talked everyday for over two weeks around the kitchen table. Thank You.
It was the spark we needed. Giving the book to the whole family to read.
Another veteran…I love
the title! Anyway…there’s much more.
Norm: What has been your overall experience as a published author?
Fred: I’m blown away by the response and certainly an education. Kind of hits me in a soft spot.
Norm: After you came
home, when did you think or feel about Vietnam? As a follow up, what
has been your greatest challenge that you have overcome to get where
you are today?
Fred: Well, I didn’t feel anything. I was one of the veterans that came home and fell into that category.
I didn’t think or speak the word ‘Vietnam’ for fifteen years. I became a workaholic.
Would work 24 hrs a day if I could. It isn’t until you get older and slower that it comes into play.
I wanted nothing to do with anything associated with Vietnam but with prodding from my wife I attended my first battalion reunion…best thing I ever did!
My greatest challenge was the VA.
I had a total change of heart. They are great! Words can’t describe how much they have helped me.
It was through the VA
that I got to see a ‘dream doctor’ no lie. They keep trying to
tell me I have PTSD but I don’t know. That one we’re still
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Fred:I’ve been thinking about this question ever since I read it the first time yesterday and thought about it all night.
I don’t have questions that I can think of that I wish somebody would ask.
I have a multitude of questions that could be asked. I’ve thought about this.
are questions that could be ask of a veteran family. I think Okay
Okay opens up the opportunity for family members to ask all kind of
questions and for the veteran to feel comfortable peeling off a
couple layers of armor and engage in a conversation, i.e. what did we
think of the civilian population? How were we treated? What did we
think of the South Vietnam army? How much respect did we have of the
North Vietnam Army? Were there any young men around? Did the Viet
Cong use torture to recruit young Vietnamese men to fight their
gorilla war? What did they use? How did you take care of yourself?
How did you go to the bathroom? Quick answer…you didn’t or on the
go if you know what I mean. You didn’t look or smell any different.
Were there really rats the size of cats? Did you really sleep? Etc.
etc. Lots of questions.
Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It's been an absolute pleasure to meet with you and read your book and good luck with it.