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The Graybeards Newsletter

The Graybeards is the name of the approximately 70-page newsletter of the Korean War Veterans Association. It is published and distributed every other month to the membership of the KWVA. The quality of the print is excellent, and the photographs in the magazine are clear. The featured articles in the Graybeards are generally informative and educational. It has the potential to be an excellent publication.

Readers need to be aware of the fact that the content of the magazine is highly censored by the current editor at the acquiescence of the national president. Censorship includes, but is not limited to, refusal to publish letters to the editor that oppose the current administration, Korean War-related advertisement that is submitted by persona non grata with the current administration, and other submitted text not in keeping with the current administration’s opinions on various issues. Readers need to also be aware of the fact that The Graybeards has carried at least one photograph (that of the "national headquarters" building) which had been cosmetically altered to change its appearance. Readers need to be aware of these caveats, and use their own sound judgment when assessing the accuracy of the magazine’s content.

The past editors of The Graybeards through the years have been Bill Norris, Stan Hadden, Sherman Pratt, and Amos Camp. The cost of printing the first two editions of the newsletter was assumed by Bill Norris, founder of the Korean War Veterans Association. He used the system of numbering each edition as "Volume 1" and "Volume 2." His Volumes 3 and 4 were never printed because of lack of funds. The numbering system changed when Stan Hadden became the editor. After that, the issues were numbered by volume (indicating year) and number (indicating edition within that year). After he volunteered to be editor, Hadden also talked to the printer in New York about the KWVA’s problem of no money. "I functioned for nearly three years as unofficial editor because I volunteered for the job," he said. "And Bill was glad to have me do it. Generally I would write and pay for printing and folding, then ship to Bill in New York and he would get two or three friends to help in applying labels and mailing. We could only put out maybe two or three editions each year until after July 1988. When Dick Adams was elected in July 1988, he asked me to be the official editor."

Vincent Krepps of Towson, Maryland has been the current editor of Graybeards for about five years. He is a veteran of the Korean War, having joined the U.S. Army in 1949 right out of high school. He arrived in the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950, along with his twin brother Richard "Dicky" Krepps, who had joined the Army at the same time he did. Krepps was assigned to D Battery, 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. On Sept. 1, 1950, Vincent received a Silver Star for action at Yongsan. He was wounded in action a month later. His twin was captured and sent to a POW camp in the winter of 1950. Dicky died in Prison Camp No. 5 on June 21, 1951, and Vincent began a lifelong quest to seek answers about his brother’s disappearance, capture, and ultimate death at the hands of the enemy.


In the President’s Message found on page 4 of the November/December 2001 issue of Graybeards, Harley Coon explained that the content of Graybeards is controlled by Vincent Krepps, the current editor. Coon said, "The Editor of The Graybeards has control of what is printed, and it is his intent to publish positive information about Department, Chapter, and individual activities. If there is something that is controversial, then he will consult with the Executive Council."

There are times when Vincent Krepps has unexpectedly blasted someone for sending him a question or message. Case in point, Editor Krepps received the following message from the Korean War Educator while Lynnita Brown was preparing the Brief History of the KWVA for this page. The message was sent to Krepps on September 10, 2003:

Lynnita Jean Brown wrote:
Vincent, on page 27 of March/April 2003 Graybeards, it states twice that there were 40 veterans who held a meeting to form the KWVA. Why does the roster only have 39 names? Did one of the veterans at the meeting not join? – Lynnita


Editor Krepps responded to this simple query from the Korean War Educator on the same day, and in this manner:

Vince Krepps wrote:
"Lynnita, I have no idea for I was not there. As you should know I cannot verify stories nor do I have time. The only ones that I would try to verify are those that would have a major effect on KWVA National or our country. In those cases I more then likely would not print them. For some reason I do not think your motivation for asking this question is that you just recently read the story. If you want an answer then ask someone that was there, not me. I do not have the time to get into petty details. I do not plan on adding his name or changing the story at this time. I got this 40th man letter also some time ago but it is his problem to solve with those that wrote the story. When this person contacted me and stated to me he was not there when the dues was taken or something like that and he felt that he should be added as the 40th man. Again I do not plan on printing his communication, nor changing what was printed. I have also heard from others that had a similar problem and others that feel that list was bigger. I was not there, I was not a member then and I have no proof of anything they say. I only printed the story for some history of how this assn. started. This I got done and it in my mind is fairly accurate. That was all I wanted. I also got a copy of the original sign in list and it has only has 39 names on it. No, I will not fax a copy. You and the others need to go to the source and tell them about the problem. Bill Norris has passed away so I think you must find others for an answer. Again I do not have the time nor do I really care. It is just not that important. - Vince

PS: You did not say why you were asking; next time if you want a response from me I need to know why or the reason for asking. The story does state that 40 people met. (if that is not an error) The document shows 39 names. For years I have always heard of the original 39, never the original 40."

While Vincent Krepps obviously has a grouchy side and can be very rude to his constituents, there is no question that he has worked very hard for several years now as editor of the KWVA magazine. Although the censorship of Graybeards is extremely problematic, causing the content of The Graybeards to be slanted in nature, this veterans' organization’s magazine is still an informative one, and Vincent Krepps (as well as all of the many contributors to the magazine) deserves the credit for making it that. Page Three of every issue has a column called, "This Issue", which lists the contents of that particular issue. The contents fall into three categories: Features, Departments, and News & Notes. "Features" are generally articles about some aspect of the Korean War, submitted by freelance writers. "Departments" includes, but is not limited to, the President’s Message, book reviews, Korean War Ex-POW updates, D.C. Affairs, Letters, Chapter Affairs, Taps, Announcements, Reunions, etc. Also under "Departments" is "Looking For"—a place where buddies can try to locate buddies or seek others who might be able to verify information or injuries from the Korean War. "News & Notes" provides information about the Korean Revisit program, the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Korean War, photographs, and more.

Articles submitted by the chapters generally contain information about their activities, including photographs of ceremonies, parades, and dedications of remembrance memorials—such as bridges, highways, and buildings. Since the mid-1980s, memorials in honor of Americans who did not come home from the Korean War have been build and/or dedicated in almost every state of the union, and some states have two or more.

The Graybeards magazine also carries paid advertising most of which relates to the Korean War in some way: websites, books for sale, wearing apparel, licensed gifts, etc. Some advertising is rejected by Krepps. For instance, advertising from the Korean War Educator, pre-paid two years in advance, was terminated on September 22, 2003, at the advent of the opening of the KWE’s newest informational page, "KWVA News." Advertising from John Kronenberger, whose Open Letters criticize the current administration, was also refused by Editor Krepps. In addition, there is at least one other known instance when Krepps told a potential advertiser that he would not carry that company’s advertising in The Graybeards unless the company complied with certain conditions (not related to either format or payment). The Korean War Educator has a copy of the communication between Krepps and the potential advertiser, Amishland Country Village.

From time to time, Editor Krepps has written the "Editor’s Pen"—a page in The Graybeards set aside for his own personal comments. He stopped writing the column a few issues after he took over as the newsletter editor; but he resumed the column for the March/April 2002 issue of Graybeards in order to electioneer for Harley Coon’s candidacy as third-term president of the KWVA. Although the KWVA Judge Advocate had issued his ruling stating that a third-term Coon presidency was illegal, Krepps stated to the members of the KWVA in his revived "Editor’s Pen" column that, "There will be no harm caused to the KWVA by your vote of allowing President Coon a third term or even a one year extension and this has been done before for similar reasons…."

This type of slanted reporting in The Graybeards as election time approaches has appeared year after year during the administration of Harley Coon. See January/February 2001, page 10 (President's Message); January/February 2002, page 4 (President's Message); and March/April 2002, pages 4 and 7 (President's Message). Opposing views and negative comments about Harley Coon's leadership ability are not published in The Graybeards. Instead, there are testimonials on his behalf (see half-page testimonial from Gen. Ray Davis, May/June 2002, page 7). In addition, all issues of The Graybeards carry multiple pictures of Harley Coon.

The most controversial issue with regards to The Graybeards, apart from the ever-present censorship, is the phony picture of the KWVA national headquarters, published in The Graybeards magazine just before the 2002 KWVA election. More information on the photograph can be found under the "Controversies" section of the Korean War Educator’s KWVA page.

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