Veterans Interest - Page 10
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-- The Bomber - new posting 4/24/2013
-- You Can Leave The Military, But It Never Really Leaves You - 3/4/10
-- Bring Back ROTC - 9/2009
-- A Marines letter home - Posted 8/2/09
-- 10 Things a Janitor Can Teach You About Leadership - Posted 7/28/09
-- Sergeant First Class John C. Beale - Posted 7/16/09
-- Ed Freeman - Medal of Honor, has passed to his reward - Posted 7/14/09
-- Major Bruce P. Crandall - Medal of Honor - wing man to Ed Freeman 

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  The Bomber

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision. "My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said. "He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

Brown's Crippled B-17 Stalked by Stigler's ME-109

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany . Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II.

USAAF Lt. Charles Brown

Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.

Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943. Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.

Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities. Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.

As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.

He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. One propeller wasn't' turning. Smoke trailed from another engine. He could see men huddled inside the shattered plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.

Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.

Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe . He had once studied to be a priest. A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.

Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him: "You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."

Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.

"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands now..." Franz Stigler didn't think the big B-17 could make it back to England and wondered for years what happened to the American pilot and crew he encountered in combat.

Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.

As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies.   He was thinking of survival. He flew his crippled plan, filled with wounded, back to his base in England and landed with one of four engines knocked out, one failing and barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.

Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida .

Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.

Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life? He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England . He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.

On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read: "Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to that B-17, did she make it home? Did her crew survive their wounds? To hear of your survival has filled me with indescribable joy..."

It was Stigler.

He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter." Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.

"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks. Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate."

One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They fell into each other' arms and wept and laughed. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.

The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English: "I love you, Charlie."

Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived.

The war cost him everything. Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of. The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.

They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.

Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.

Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.

"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week." As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says "The nightmares went away."

Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.

During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.

"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.

Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.

After he died, Warner was searching through Brown's library when she came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.

Warner opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:

In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December,4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.

The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me as precious as my brother was.

Thanks Charlie.

Your Brother, Franz

 You Can Leave The Military, But It Never Really Leaves You

The Charlestown Post and Courier

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Occasionally, I venture back out to the air base where I'm greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, "Have a good day, tech sergeant."

Every time I go back onto Charleston Air Force Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did, years ago.

The military, for all its flaws, is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It's a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced. A place where everybody is busy but not too busy to take care of business.

Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.

Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military, and who you were dealing with. That's because you could read somebody's uniform from 20 feet away and know the score.

Service personnel wear their careers on their sleeves, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their ribbons and know where they've served.

I miss all those little things you take for granted when you're in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon.

I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the sidewalks, the bark of sergeants and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by in review.

To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it's very serious business, especially in times of war.

But I miss the salutes I'd throw at officers and the crisp returns as we crisscrossed on the flight line.

I miss the smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and disappearing into the clouds.

I even miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that enlisted men gripe about constantly, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they'll ever know or admit.

I miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender.

Mostly I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.

Mostly, I don't know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn't feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth.

 Bring Back ROTC

By Ken Harbaugh   Extract from the VFW magazine for Sep, 2009

Seven elite universities persist in banning the Reserve Officers Training Corps from their campuses. This is not only unfair to students, but dangerous to civil-military relations.

Brown University, Providence, R.1.
Columbia University, New York, NY
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, Mass.
University of Chicago, Chicago, III.
Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

"The Nation That Makes A Great Distinction Between Its Scholars And Its Warriors Will Have Its Thinking Done By Cowards And Its Fighting Done By Fools." ~Thucydides, Greek historian

A few years ago, I was sitting outside a coffee house in downtown New Haven, Conn. A convoy of Army trucks barreled past. In my previous job teaching Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) courses at The Citadel, that would have seemed normal. But in New Haven, home of Yale University, it bordered on the profane.

A young man sitting at the next table, probably a student, smirked: "What, are we at war?". The comment was not meant to be ironic. At Yale, as at most elite schools these days, it is easy to forget there is a war on. The normal signs are nowhere to be found.

I served in the Navy for nine years, and left in 2005 to attend Yale Law School. After graduating, I taught an undergraduate seminar about the obligations of citizenship.

My students represented the best America has to offer. They were all brilliant, and most were deeply committed to the ideal of service before self. But there was something missing. For all their bright and youthful enthusiasm, few of my students had any real understanding of the sacrifices such idealism can require.

Fifty years ago, a significant number of Ivy League graduates joined the military. Today, hardly any do. Even more troubling is the fact that few students at these schools have any eA.'P0sure whatsoever to the military that exists to defend them.

During the late 1960s, schools such as Brown, Columbia, Harvard and Yale banned on-campus ROTC programs. This practice continued under evolving rationales, the most recent being Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in uniform. Until recently, recruiters could not eyen visit campuses without having their access to students severely restricted.

Reconnecting is Vital Re-establishing a connection between America's military and its most selective schools will certainly provide exceptional opportunities to exceptional young

people. More important, it will begin the job of repairing our military's relationship with its civilian masters.

The elites who shape our national policy are growing dangerously out of touch with the men and women they send to war. Restoring ROTC, and redoubling on-campus recruiting efforts, will help to bridge this ever-widening gap by providing some students with opportunities to serve directly. It will also provide other students with a real connection to those who fight in their place.

While our military may never again draw a significant percentage of officers from America's most selective universities, it can provide a critical reference point for America's future leaders by having a real presence on their campuses.

The good news is that the door is finally open. In March 2006, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the military must be allowed back on campus.

Perhaps more significantly, the students are ready. Anti-military attitudes that dominated schools during the 1960s have lost their appeal.

At Yale, a number of pro-military, student-led organizations have sprung up, including one that helps undergraduates apply to Marine Officer Candidate School.

Though most of the young people I taught lacked a personal bond with anyone in uniform, the vast majority professed a deep respect for those who choose to serve.

Whenever I do encounter animosity toward the military on campus, it is usually the result of misunderstanding. Students who cite Don't Ask, Don't Tell as justification for their disapproval of ROTC are far more sympathetic upon realizing that such policies are imposed by Congress, and that the military has no choice but to enforce them.

Ultimately, convincing Yale and other schools to welcome back the military may prove the easier task. The greater challenge will likely come from the military itself.

Reluctance Among Military within the training commands, there is a deep reluctance among some leaders to re-engage the Ivy League. Part of this reticence is practical. The military assumes tuition costs for most students participating in ROTC, so programs at expensive schools impose a near-term financial burden. One high-ranking Navy official, charged with administering ROTC programs, asked me, "Is a Yale-educated officer really worth five from Auburn?"
The short answer is "Yes”. That answer, however, has little to do with quality of education, and everything to do with the future of civil-military relations.

Reestablishing military training programs at these schools will require not only a new approach to funding, but a totally new attitude. The bitterness that characterized ROTC's departure 40 years ago still lingers, and many in the military cannot forgive that insult. But there is too much at stake to allow wounded pride to rule this issue.

Bringing back ROTC, and redoubling on-campus recruiting efforts, is sure to generate controversy. Certain constituencies, both on campuses and inside the military, have a vested interest in maintaining the ban. For students who wish to serve in uniform, this is all deeply unfair.

Yet ending the ban is about much more than fairness. It is, ultimately, about our military's relationship to its civilian masters. At Yale-a school that has educated more than its share of senators and presidents-almost none of my colleagues, classmates or students ever noticed the absence of uniforms on campus.

In a nation at war, this is shameful. For the military, re-establishing a connection to our elite universities is well worth the near-term financial investment.

Linking Service and Sacrifice Toward the end of my Yale course on citizenship, I took the seminar to West Point. Each Yalie was paired with a cadet, attending classes and meal formations. For the vast majority of my students, this was the firsttime they had ever engaged someone in uniform on a personal level. At the end of the day, they all left with newfound respect for the unseverable link between service and sacrifice.

A few months later, after the semester had ended, I met several students over coffee. I related the story of the Army trucks, and of the young man who smirked "What, are we at war?"

When I think about what an idyllic place Yale can seem, I hope it never becomes the kind of place where military convoys seem normal. But perhaps if students there had a real connection with those who defend them, they might see the wisdom in Thucydides' warning. Then, maybe, they would not so easily forget why Army trucks exist in the first place.

 10 Things a Janitor Can Teach You About Leadership
By - Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander
Graduate United States Air Force Academy - class of 1977

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. 

Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. Why?  Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.  Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.  After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. 

Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the background.  Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.  And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny.

Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world.  What did he have to offer us on a personal level? 

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him.  Bill was shy, almost painfully so.  He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron.  The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk.  And Mr. Crawford...well, he was just a janitor.  

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976.  I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story. On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.  The words on the page leapt out at me: “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire ...  with no regard for personal safety on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked  fortified enemy positions.” It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States ...” “Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.” 

We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being.  Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.  We met Mr.  Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. 

He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.”  Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor.  Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?” He slowly replied after some thought, “That was one day in my life and it  happened a long time ago.”  I guess we were all at a loss for words after that.  We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to. 

However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron.  Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst - Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal!  Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.” 

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.  Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.  He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. 

Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.  Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely  to notice the difference.  After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often.  The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more.  Bill even got to know most of  us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy. 

While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron.  As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past.  The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977.  As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.” 

With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed. Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town. 

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.”  Bill was one who made a difference for me.  While I haven’t  seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often.  Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you. 

1. Be Cautious of Labels.  Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.”  Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.” 

2.  Everyone Deserves Respect.  Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us.  He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of  Honor winner.  Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team. 

3. Courtesy Makes a Difference.  Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position.  Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed.  It made a difference for all of us. 

4. Take Time to Know Your People.  Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it.  Who are the heroes that walk in your midst? 

5.  Anyone Can Be a Hero.  Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero.  Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.  Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls.  On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team.  Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar. 

6.  Leaders Should Be Humble.  Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields.  End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same. 

7.  Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve.  We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right?  However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should - don’t let that stop you. 

8.  Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.  Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living. No Job is Beneath a Leader.  If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it. 

9.  Pursue Excellence.  No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home. 

10.  Life is a Leadership Laboratory.  All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.  Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.  I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people.  I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most  is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.  Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero.  Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons. 

And now, for the rest of the story.........Pvt. William John Crawford was a platoon scout for 3rd Platoon of Company L 142nd Regiment 36th Division (Texas National Guard) and won the Medal Of Honor for his actions on Hill 424, just 4 days after the invasion at  Salerno. 

You can read his citation at  On Hill 424, Pvt. Crawford took out 3 enemy machine guns before darkness fell, halting the platoon’s advance.  Pvt. Crawford could not be found and was assumed dead.  The request for his MOH was quickly approved.  MG Terry Allen presented the posthumous MOH to Bill Crawford’s father,  George, on 11 May 1944 in Camp (now Fort) Carson, near Pueblo.  Nearly two months after that, it was learned that Pvt. Crawford was alive in a POW camp in Germany. During his captivity, a German guard clubbed him with his rifle.  Bill overpowered him, took the rifle away, and beat the guard unconscious.  A German doctor’s testimony saved  him from severe punishment, perhaps death.  To stay ahead of the advancing Russian army, the prisoners were marched 500 miles in 52 days in the middle of the German winter, subsisting on one potato a day.  An allied tank column liberated the camp in the spring of 1945, and Pvt. Crawford took his first hot shower in 18 months on VE Day.  Pvt. Crawford stayed in the army  before retiring as a MSG and becoming a janitor. 

You can read his story at:


 I received this by e-mail from a friend.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman, died Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at the age of 80, in Boise, ID.  Ed was buried in Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, Boise, Idaho.  May God rest his soul......

November 14, 1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam:

You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the La Drang Valley.  Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.  You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.  Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter. You look up to see an unarmed Huey. But ... it doesn't seem real because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you.  He's not Medi-Vac so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.  Even after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.  He's coming anyway, he drops in and sits there under fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses.  And, he kept coming back!!  He took about 30 of you and your buddies out who would never have gotten out. 

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing in todays Government Controlled Media, a bloody shame.


Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers -- some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Freeman was born in Neely, Perry County, Mississippi, the sixth of nine children.[1] He grew up in nearby McLain[2] and graduated from Washington High School.[1] He served in World War II[2] and reached the rank of master sergeant by the time of the Korean War. Although he was in the Corps of Engineers, he fought as an infantry soldier in Korea. He participated in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and received a battlefield commission.

Ed W. "Too Tall" Freeman (November 20, 1927 - August 20, 2008) was a United States Army helicopter pilot who received the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Battle of La Drang during the Vietnam War. During the battle, he flew through gunfire numerous times, bringing supplies to a trapped American battalion and flying dozens of wounded soldiers to safety. Freeman was wingman for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions.

 Major Bruce P. Crandall was awarded the Medal of Honor on February 26, 2007 for his heroic actions during the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965, in which he repeatedly flew an unarmed helicopter into enemy fire to bring in ammunition and supplies and evacuate the wounded. Crandall flew 22 flights that day, most of them under intense enemy fire, and a total of over 900 combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Medal of Honor citation

Bruce Crandall receiving the Medal of Honor“ For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry battalion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall's voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall's daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.


 Sergeant First Class John C. Beale, United States Army, God bless the USA

The body of Sergeant First Class John C. Beale is returned to Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia , just south of Atlanta , on June 11, 2009.

The Henry County Police Department escorted the procession to the funeral home in McDonough, Georgia. A simple notice in local papers indicated the road route to be taken and the approximate time.

A bystander along the route of the procession wrote:

"Nowadays one can be led to believe that America no longer honors sacrifice by our military. Be it known that there are many places in this land where people still recognize the courage and impact of total self-sacrifice. Georgia remains one of those graceful places.”

This is a poem being sent from a young Marine to his Dad.  For those who take the time to read it, a letter from him to his dad is included.
It makes you truly thankful for not only the Marines, but all of our Troops.

A Young Marine's letter home

Hey Dad,
Do me a favor and label this 'The Marine' and send it to everybody on your email list.   Even leave this letter in it.  
I want this rolling all over the US; I want every home reading it.  Every eye seeing it.  And every heart to feel it.
So can you please send this for me?  I would but my email time isn't that long and I don't have much time anyway.
You know what Dad?   I wondered what it would be like to truly understand what JFK said in His inaugural speech.
'When the time comes to lay down my life for my country, I do not cower from this responsibility.    
I welcome it.  ' Well, now I know.  And I do.  Dad, I welcome the opportunity to do what I do.
Even though I have left behind a beautiful wife, and I will miss the birth of our first born child,
I would do it 70 times over to fight for the place that God has made for my home.  
I love you all and I miss you very much.
I wish I could be there when Sandi has our baby, but tell her that I love her, and Lord willing,  
I will be coming home soon.  Give Mom a great big hug from me and give one to yourself too.

We all came together,
Both young and old
To fight for our freedom,
To stand and be bold.
In the midst of all evil,
We stand our ground,
And we protect our country
From all terror around.
Peace and not war,
Is what some people say.
But I'll give my life,
So you can live the American way
I gave you the right
To talk of your peace.
To stand in your groups,
and protest in our streets.
But still I fight on,
I don't fuss, I don't whine.
I'm just one of the people!
Who is doing your time.
I'm harder than nails,
Stronger than any machine.
I'm the immortal soldier,
I'm a U.S. MARINE!
So stand in my shoes,
And leave from your home.
Fight for the people who hate you, with the protests they've shown.
Fight for the sick, Fight for the poor
Fight for the cripple, living next door.
Fight for the stranger,
Fight for the young.
So they all may have,
The freedom you've won
But when your time comes,
Do what I've done.
For when you stand up for freedom,
You'll stand with the best
when the fight is done.
  By: Corporal Aaron M. Gilbert,
US Marine Corps

 Let's help Aaron's dad spread the word .... FREEDOM isn't FREE  Someone pays for you and me.











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