|William “Bill” Crawford|
Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient William “Bill” Crawford story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.
Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976, he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.
Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford, an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire — three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.
After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead. In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year, Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant. After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat, he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.
Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.
“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this, but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”
The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him. “He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said, ‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’
Read the rest of the story: War hero’s modest demeanor recalled The Pueblo Chieftan Nick Bonham
The original story on the Home of Heroes website:
A Janitor’s Ten Lessons in Leadership By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander
|William “Bill” Crawford|
September 13, 1943, Crawford was serving as a private with the 36th Infantry Division in southern Italy. On that day, he was acting as a squad scout when his company attacked Hill 424 near Altavilla Silentina. During the battle, Crawford twice moved forward through continuous fire and, using hand grenades and his rifle, destroyed machine gun nests which were holding back his platoon’s advance.
After the battle, he was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father. Later in the year, he was among a group of soldiers rescued from German captivity.
He retired from the Army after 23 years of service and later worked at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and as director of the Lucretia Vaille Museum in Palmer Lake.
|Crawford and Reagan|
While working at the Air Force Academy, he mentioned to friends that he had never received the Medal from the president. In 1984, during that year’s graduation ceremony, President Ronald Reagan formally presented him with the Medal.
Crawford died at age 81 on March 15, 2000, in his residence at Palmer Lake. Upon his death Governor Bill Owens authorized all Colorado flags to be lowered to half staff in his honor. He is buried at the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs.