Lloyd Crippen did not pick his branch of the service.
“In 1952, Uncle Sam pointed his finger at me and said, ‘I need you,’” Crippen said. “I was drafted.”
The commander of Marble Falls VFW Post 10376, Crippen served in crypto in the signal corps, cyphering and deciphering top secret information. He served in Korea during the height of the war, starting as a private. He ended his military career as a sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank.
Crippen actually served two stints in the U.S. Army. He did not reenlist after his first years. Instead, he returned to his home near Des Moines, Iowa, to try his hand at farming.
“That didn’t work out,” he said, “About 1962, I went back into service and ended up serving a total of 27 years.”
His final deployment was back in Des Moines in a recruiting office. Now a resident of Kingsland, he has been a member of the VFW for the past 12 years. Eight of those years, he served as commander.
“This is my last year,” he said. When asked why, he laughed. “I’m going to be 90 before my term is up.”
However, retiring from service to the VFW is not part of Crippen’s plan when he steps down as commander. When he talks about the VFW, and the Marble Falls Post in particular, it is clear he will always be an active member. He proudly displayed a certificate received this year naming 10376 an All American VFW Post, the highest rating a post can achieve. Crippen also received an individual certificate honoring him as the commander of an All American VFW Post.
The popular post has received many state and national honors over the years, but Crippen pointed out that the post’s focus will always be to help veterans.
“The VFW was organized specifically to take care of veterans and their families,” he said. “Everything we do here is aimed at that goal.”
Much of the skill set he employs as post commander he learned as he worked his way up the ranks in the Army.
“When you become a sergeant major, you have to be a leader. That’s all there is to it,” he continued. “Before I was commander here, I was commander in two American Legion Posts in Iowa, so I had commander experience before I came here.”
His advice to any young person wondering about joining the military is to “go for it.”
“There are so many possibilities in the military today, more than in civilian life,” he said. “For example, the Army controls the drones. I think it is the future of wars. You can send a piece of equipment up in the air instead of a person.”
The advice is the same for veterans thinking about joining the VFW.
“I highlight the camaraderie of the people here,” he said when asked to pitch the post to a newcomer. “That’s basically why people join an organization like this. They are coming here to have someone to talk to. And, for those that need help, we are here for them.”