John Faber, who says he served with the storied 101st Airborne, marched in this year’s Veteran’s Day parade in Reno. He spoke with us following the parade.
What made you march today?
Well, these guys asked me to. I’m sitting down there watching the parade, and they waved me in, a bunch of the old vets. Every year there’s less and less vets in the parade. There ain’t very many. And walking down the sidewalks here, there’s less white-haired guys like me.
Where did you serve?
101st Airborne, tail end of the Korean stuff. I was a gunner on a 106 recoilless rifle. We were paratroop infantry. Instead of marching, they just dropped us. Then they dropped our equipment. Then we’d unstrap it all and drive off. It was an anti-tank weapon. It was accurate at 1,200 yards, mounted on a jeep. You could drive down the side roads, 40, 45 miles an hour and get ahead of their tank hauls and then set up. They had a .50 caliber spotting rifle on top, and you’d [fire] three-rounds zeroing it in with that, and then when tankers heard that ping of that .50 caliber on the side of that tank, they knew what was coming next—around this big around and it was accurate at 1,200 yards. The 106 recoilless sat on a Jeep, had a little U-shape right in the middle of the windshield. When you were driving down the road, you laid the barrel in there, strapped it down. When you got set up to fire, you laid down the windshield and cranked ’er up. You sat on the side of the barrel on an old metal seat, just like on a farm tractor. And the steering wheel, the elevation, you cranked it on that and the horn button was this big around and that was the trigger.
How long were you in Korea?
Half the time I was in the military—three years. Half the time I was in that area. … I was a teenager.
How were you received when you got back?
Oh, from Korea? Damn good. … In the ’50s it was still, you know, it wasn’t even hardly eight, 10 years after the World War II, so everybody was still behind the military.
Are you in touch with other people from your unit?
Yes. A lot of them ain’t living no more. I’m 75. We have 101st Airborne annual reunions. They have them in different parts of the states every year. They had one [locally] years ago. The first one here was at John Ascuaga’s Nugget years ago. Then they had one at the MGM, when it was the MGM. And the last one was right here at Circus Circus. It was quite a few years ago. I can’t remember the dates. Those were the three they had in this area. Then I got lucky. I went back to Bloomington, Minnesota, for my 50th high school class reunion, and 10 days later in Bloomington they had the 101st Airborne reunion right down the highway at a different hotel. So I got them both.