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Posted: 12/30/2005 10:16:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/31/2005 7:48:43 AM EDT by thompsondd]
Just having a little retrospective on life as another year comes to a close.

I have been forunate in my life to have been blessed to meet many people that, knowing ahead of time, were great men.

I have met Chuck Yeager. I have met Randy Cunnigham. I have met Zell Miller. I have met many, many others.

All of them great men.

However, occasionally, you meet someone who does not claim to be great, but their character gives them away.

Bill Crawford was one of the latter. However, he was probably one of the greatest men that I have ever met.

Thank you God for putting so many GREAT men in my path throughout the course of my life to learn from. May I never forget any of them, and may I be as mighty and as humble as they.



A Janitor's 10 Lessons in Leadership
By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

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. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." 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.
OK - this story has all of the hallmarks of classic "glurge"; those syrupy, maudlin, "Chicken Soup for the Idiot's Soul" stories. So, I did some checking.



Medal of Honor recipient William Crawford dies at 81
By Dennis Darrow, The Pueblo Chieftain, March 17, 2000

William Crawford, whose bravery as an Army private in World War II led to his becoming the first of Pueblo's four Medal of Honor recipients, died Wednesday at his home in Palmer Lake near Colorado Springs, a friend close to the family said. He was 81.
Crawford's death comes six months before his childhood hometown of Pueblo hosts the national Congressional Medal of Honor Society convention, an event expected to draw many of the nation's 149 surviving Medal recipients.
At the convention, the city will unveil a major outdoor memorial to its four Medal recipients - the others of whom survive - but now another event will take on equal attention. Each year, the Medal recipients conduct a special memorial service in honor of colleagues who've died in the past year.
Over the years, Pueblo has honored Crawford and the other three Medal recipients on numerous occasions. In the 1990s, Crawford made frequent visits as part of the city's Home of Heroes activities. Most recently, he visited to inspect the bronze sculpture of him that's part of the outdoor display.
Crawford received the Medal for the heroism he displayed during heavy fighting in September 1943 near Altavilla, Italy, when on three separate occasions - and on his own initiative - he raced through intense enemy fire to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.
The story of his award goes beyond those actions. After the battle, Crawford, who was a squad scout, was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1945, the Medal was given to his father. Later in the year, Crawford was among a group of soldiers rescued from German control.
Crawford spoke modestly of his award.
"I was just glad that I was doing my part," he said in an interview several years ago. "I figured it was just a normal call of duty. I happened to be at the right place at the right time."
Crawford re-enlisted in the Army in 1947 and retired in 1967 as a master sergeant. Later, he worked as a janitor at the Air Force Academy. While working at the academy, he mentioned to friends that he never received the Medal from the president. In 1984, during that year's Air Force Academy graduation, President Ronald Reagan presented him the Medal.

Medal of Honor
CRAWFORD, WILLIAM J.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943.
Entered service at: Pueblo, Colo.
Birth: Pueblo, Colo.
G.O. No.: 57, 20 July 1944.
Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943. When Company I attacked an enemy-held position on Hill 424, the 3d Platoon, in which Pvt. Crawford was a squad scout, attacked as base platoon for the company. After reaching the crest of the hill, the platoon was pinned down by intense enemy machinegun and small-arms fire. Locating 1 of these guns, which was dug in on a terrace on his immediate front, Pvt. Crawford, without orders and on his own initiative, moved over the hill under enemy fire to a point within a few yards of the gun emplacement and single-handedly destroyed the machinegun and killed 3 of the crew with a hand grenade, thus enabling his platoon to continue its advance. When the platoon, after reaching the crest, was once more delayed by enemy fire, Pvt. Crawford again, in the face of intense fire, advanced directly to the front midway between 2 hostile machinegun nests located on a higher terrace and emplaced in a small ravine. Moving first to the left, with a hand grenade he destroyed 1 gun emplacement and killed the crew; he then worked his way, under continuous fire, to the other and with 1 grenade and the use of his rifle, killed 1 enemy and forced the remainder to flee.



ETA: Although the above story was written by someone else, I was, however, fortunate enough to have been able to meet Mr. Campbell when I was a cadet at USAFA. He was an amazing person. I recently learned of his passing back in 2000 so I wanted to pass along the story to everyone here for 2 reasons: 1) so everyone here might have a chance to know a little bit about Mr. Crawford and 2) as a way of paying my respect and admiration to such a great man. Thank you Mr. Crawford for being such an inspiration. You are always missed. May you Rest in Peace.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:21:04 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/30/2005 10:31:00 PM EDT by JustinOK34]


Edit-
It's amazing. The bravery of our troops in times of war, and then to just say, "I was just doing my job" and play it off.

A great American right there.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:27:27 PM EDT
The last known picture of Mr. Crawford along with the other Publeo CO MOH winners.

Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:30:41 PM EDT
R.I.P.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:31:17 PM EDT
www.pueblomohfoundation.com/memorial.php

This is the MOH memorial in Pueblo:



Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:37:51 PM EDT
That's a great story!
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:43:24 PM EDT
Thank you for the story.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:43:59 PM EDT
Wow!! Definitely needs a link in the Hall of Heroes forum.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:47:41 PM EDT
God bless Bill.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:49:11 PM EDT
Those who are really a hero,will never tell,they will never let on to the great things they have done. This country is filled with men who have done great things, yet you will most likly never hear these stories,because they are just men who were doing a job and they want no part of glory.
Link Posted: 12/30/2005 10:58:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HarrySacz:
Those who are really a hero,will never tell,they will never let on to the great things they have done. This country is filled with men who have done great things, yet you will most likly never hear these stories,because they are just men who were doing a job and they want no part of glory.





HarrySacz - agreed

There are those who know this lesson already. Yet, there are so many more who haven't been as fortunate as I to have learned it by meeting such great men. I posted this for those who haven't been as blessed to have learned some of the most basic truths of life. It saddens me to see our young people who look up to, worship, and idolize people not worthy of such admiration while the true heroes of our nation go quietly about their business.

This was a great man, who humbled himself by cleaning toilets.



Link Posted: 12/30/2005 11:09:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/30/2005 11:24:17 PM EDT by HarrySacz]

Originally Posted By thompsondd:

Originally Posted By HarrySacz:
Those who are really a hero,will never tell,they will never let on to the great things they have done. This country is filled with men who have done great things, yet you will most likly never hear these stories,because they are just men who were doing a job and they want no part of glory.





HarrySacz - agreed

There are those who know this lesson already. Yet, there are so many more who haven't been as fortunate as I to have learned it by meeting such great men. I posted this for those who haven't been as blessed to have learned some of the most basic truths of life. It saddens me to see our young people who look up to, worship, and idolize people not worthy of such admiration while the true heroes of our nation go quietly about their business.

This was a great man, who humbled himself by cleaning toilets.



I look up to those i learn about on the History channel, not mtv. Many people in this country could not even tell you the day Pearl Harbor was attacked,and that is sickning,we owe EVERYTHING to these men and women, to those who did everything they could.



Link Posted: 12/31/2005 4:27:33 AM EDT
Mr. Crawford is a perfect example of a real soldier.

He did what he had to do to save his friends. I'm sure he was not thinking "WTF can I do to make myself look good.?
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 4:40:16 AM EDT
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that story!!

I really needed that.

This one really hit me about today:

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.

If only our elected leaders were humble like this man. If only athletes and movie stars (people who, unfortunately, dominate our viewing) could emulate this man.

Oh well. Thank God for his bravery and his example.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:22:25 AM EDT
Thanks for the story. Very humbling. Makes you realize there are alot of unspoken heroes in our midst.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:22:42 AM EDT
This was written by By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander and is posted on this website


Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:26:22 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:33:23 AM EDT
GREAT STORY!
I find myself thinking about such things,when the old guy in the car in front of me is driving to0 slow,or the Walmart checker isn't fast enough to suit me,or the old man ahead of me is shuffling along,and holding me up.Puts things in perspective and calms me right down. God Bless 'em!
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:41:19 AM EDT
That is an incredible story.

R.I.P.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:42:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
The last known picture of Mr. Crawford along with the other Publeo CO MOH winners.



I was wondering, first, you wrote this in the first person; were you one of the cadets who met Mr. Crawford? I've seen the same story (in pretty much the same words) posted here a couple of times before, so I'm not sure if you're quoting or posting a personal story.

Second, who are the other MOH winners in the photo?
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 5:57:13 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 7:26:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 71-Hour_Achmed:

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
The last known picture of Mr. Crawford along with the other Publeo CO MOH winners.

www.eljeferuben.com/sitebuilder/images/Crawford_Gen_b_w-368x240.jpg


I was wondering, first, you wrote this in the first person; were you one of the cadets who met Mr. Crawford? I've seen the same story (in pretty much the same words) posted here a couple of times before, so I'm not sure if you're quoting or posting a personal story.



Yes, I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Crawford while I was at USAFA. That is why I wanted to pass this story along, even though it was written by someone else. Mr. Crawford was a very humble, yet great man. Had his story not been out, you would never know however, as he never talked about himself. He was the most amazing person that I have ever met simply because of how humble he was.


Second, who are the other MOH winners in the photo?


Pueblo, CO Medal of Honor recipient, the late William Crawford; Lt. General Carol Mutter; Colorado Springs, CO Medal of Honor recipient, Peter "Pete" C. Lemon, and Ruben Archuleta.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 7:37:34 AM EDT
Best post of the year! Great story, thanks for sharing it.
Link Posted: 12/31/2005 7:51:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/31/2005 7:55:24 AM EDT by thompsondd]

Originally Posted By Lupey:
This was written by By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander and is posted on this website





It is also posted on eDodo in the folklore section: www.usafatoday.com/Folklore/modules/news/article.php?storyid=473

I was just remembering a better time with better people I guess:

Link Posted: 12/31/2005 7:55:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bumblebee_Bob:
Best post of the year! Great story, thanks for sharing it.



I wholeheartedly concur.
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 12:42:21 AM EDT
You were a lucky man, ThompsonDD. And thanks.
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 1:37:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bumblebee_Bob:
Best post of the year! Great story, thanks for sharing it.



Agreed! Great story and lessons to carry into the New Year.

Humility, Kindness, Courtesy, Respect...
Link Posted: 1/1/2006 3:05:51 AM EDT
Humbled?

Yes! Everytime I read the citations for the MOH recipients, I get a warm, shivery feeling that starts from my neck and on down my back. I tend to get emotional as I read them and then I feel pride that I too was a member of the United States Armed Forces and was able to retire. Life is not very easy in the military, but these folks stood tall and went beyond what was required of them. I bow my head to all of the Medal of Honor recipients then, now and in the future. I shall salute them proudly forever.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 1:39:19 AM EDT
Wow... Just, wow. I had never this story before, and I feel privelaged having read it now. A friend of mine once said, "Life is a field of honor that most simply retreat from, only to claim arrogance from having escaped unscathed." Something like that. His point was that humility is lost on many, while life is filled with chances to be a hero. Not the traditional sense of heroism with medals and recognition, but someone's hero none-the-less.

If there was ever a humble hero, surely this man fits the bill. Go with God, kind and gentle sir. This world is a much lesser place without you.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 4:28:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
Just having a little retrospective on life as another year comes to a close.

I have been forunate in my life to have been blessed to meet many people that, knowing ahead of time, were great men.

I have met Chuck Yeager. I have met Randy Cunnigham. I have met Zell Miller. I have met many, many others.

All of them great men.

However, occasionally, you meet someone who does not claim to be great, but their character gives them away.

Bill Crawford was one of the latter. However, he was probably one of the greatest men that I have ever met.

Thank you God for putting so many GREAT men in my path throughout the course of my life to learn from. May I never forget any of them, and may I be as mighty and as humble as they.

www.pueblomohfoundation.com/images/bill-crawford.gif

A Janitor's 10 Lessons in Leadership
By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

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. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." 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.
OK - this story has all of the hallmarks of classic "glurge"; those syrupy, maudlin, "Chicken Soup for the Idiot's Soul" stories. So, I did some checking.

www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/crawford.jpg

Medal of Honor recipient William Crawford dies at 81
By Dennis Darrow, The Pueblo Chieftain, March 17, 2000

William Crawford, whose bravery as an Army private in World War II led to his becoming the first of Pueblo's four Medal of Honor recipients, died Wednesday at his home in Palmer Lake near Colorado Springs, a friend close to the family said. He was 81.
Crawford's death comes six months before his childhood hometown of Pueblo hosts the national Congressional Medal of Honor Society convention, an event expected to draw many of the nation's 149 surviving Medal recipients.
At the convention, the city will unveil a major outdoor memorial to its four Medal recipients - the others of whom survive - but now another event will take on equal attention. Each year, the Medal recipients conduct a special memorial service in honor of colleagues who've died in the past year.
Over the years, Pueblo has honored Crawford and the other three Medal recipients on numerous occasions. In the 1990s, Crawford made frequent visits as part of the city's Home of Heroes activities. Most recently, he visited to inspect the bronze sculpture of him that's part of the outdoor display.
Crawford received the Medal for the heroism he displayed during heavy fighting in September 1943 near Altavilla, Italy, when on three separate occasions - and on his own initiative - he raced through intense enemy fire to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.
The story of his award goes beyond those actions. After the battle, Crawford, who was a squad scout, was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1945, the Medal was given to his father. Later in the year, Crawford was among a group of soldiers rescued from German control.
Crawford spoke modestly of his award.
"I was just glad that I was doing my part," he said in an interview several years ago. "I figured it was just a normal call of duty. I happened to be at the right place at the right time."
Crawford re-enlisted in the Army in 1947 and retired in 1967 as a master sergeant. Later, he worked as a janitor at the Air Force Academy. While working at the academy, he mentioned to friends that he never received the Medal from the president. In 1984, during that year's Air Force Academy graduation, President Ronald Reagan presented him the Medal.

Medal of Honor
CRAWFORD, WILLIAM J.
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943.
Entered service at: Pueblo, Colo.
Birth: Pueblo, Colo.
G.O. No.: 57, 20 July 1944.
Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943. When Company I attacked an enemy-held position on Hill 424, the 3d Platoon, in which Pvt. Crawford was a squad scout, attacked as base platoon for the company. After reaching the crest of the hill, the platoon was pinned down by intense enemy machinegun and small-arms fire. Locating 1 of these guns, which was dug in on a terrace on his immediate front, Pvt. Crawford, without orders and on his own initiative, moved over the hill under enemy fire to a point within a few yards of the gun emplacement and single-handedly destroyed the machinegun and killed 3 of the crew with a hand grenade, thus enabling his platoon to continue its advance. When the platoon, after reaching the crest, was once more delayed by enemy fire, Pvt. Crawford again, in the face of intense fire, advanced directly to the front midway between 2 hostile machinegun nests located on a higher terrace and emplaced in a small ravine. Moving first to the left, with a hand grenade he destroyed 1 gun emplacement and killed the crew; he then worked his way, under continuous fire, to the other and with 1 grenade and the use of his rifle, killed 1 enemy and forced the remainder to flee.

hough so I wanted to pass along the story to everyone here for 2 reasons: 1) so everyone here might have a chance to know a little bit about Mr. Crawford and 2) as a way of paying my respect and admiration to such a great man. Thank you Mr. Crawford for being such an inspiration. You are always missed. May you Rest in Peace.


Thank you for that nice story. Many times I have met heros and heard there stories later. I have met many amazing men that were war heros, POW's, in the Bataan death March and other things. I am pleased to work with Veterans. I do know that I have labeled some of them and getting to know them and talking to them and hearing about there life experiences has made me a better person and let me know so much about the human spirit.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 4:42:29 PM EDT
Wow, what a man.

Link Posted: 1/2/2006 5:02:23 PM EDT
Incredible.

Thanks for the story, thompsondd.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 5:16:52 PM EDT
That made my day. God bless the soul of Mr. Thompson and all of our brave men and women in the service of our country.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 7:46:49 PM EDT
Godspeed Bill Crawford. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice and your heroism.
Link Posted: 1/2/2006 8:23:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By npd233:
Thank you for the story.

+1
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 1:29:46 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 5:47:35 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:11:49 AM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:22:13 AM EDT
Thanks for posting that story.I have a lot of respect for Vets.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:44:00 AM EDT
just, wow
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:58:55 AM EDT
Great post. Thank you for sharing that story.

TXL
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:22:26 PM EDT
Just remember that every time you see some old coot fidgeting in the line at Wall-Mart or such,while the chashier is basically screwing up everything that comes her way!!

He keeps his cool and don't say shit,cause unbeknown to you or me he may be the last of the breed!

A surviver of anzio,tarowa,or some little attol that don't mean squat to us!!!

Reverence the very old as they are born from poverty,and the great deppresion and had to fight and WORK for every thing they ever got!!!

Great story!!!!!!


Bob
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:30:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2006 6:31:15 PM EDT by panzersergeant]
Amongst all the inane "big drunk girl" and "I can kick Chuck Norris' ass" threads, it is quite refreshing to read a story like this.

Young people today do not have a clue. It is no exaggeration to say that Bill Crawford and the rest of his comrades in World War II saved the free world.

Thank you for posting this.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:32:37 PM EDT
Wait a minute, you've actually met Bill Crawford?
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:32:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By CAR-10:
Wait a minute, you've actually met Bill Crawford?



Yes, as well as many other people. To work at USAFA in any capacity, even as a janitor or waiter, means you have to have a security clearance. This means many of the people who work at USAFA are retired or prior military.

The ironic part is how many of the young cadets dismiss these people as insignificant because of the jobs that they hold at that time. You only find out by 1) prior common knowledge of this peoples' history that is passed down through the wing or 2) by 'humbling' yourself to actually treat these people as human beings and come to know them.

It isn't uncommon that your lowly waiter be an ex-SF Silver Star winner from Vietnam. And it isn't uncommon that your janitor be a Medal of Honor winner from WWII.

Yes, I met Mr. Crawford and I am a better person for having the priviledge and honor of having done so.

Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:40:29 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/4/2006 6:01:39 AM EDT by thompsondd]

Originally Posted By thompsondd:

It isn't uncommon that your lowly waiter be an ex-SF Silver Star winner from Vietnam. And it isn't uncommon that your janitor be a Medal of Honor winner from WWII.



See this thread:

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=424348&page=1
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:48:13 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing such a great story. Its so cool that when he finally received his medal, it was Reagan who presented it.

Patty
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:54:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By pattymcn:
Thank you for sharing such a great story. Its so cool that when he finally received his medal, it was Reagan who presented it.

Patty



Patty - yes it was and it spoke highly of another mans' character that I admire greatly.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:00:06 AM EDT
It was my misfortune not to serve under any USAF officers that followed the principles layed out by Col. Moschgat when I was doing my service time. The Officers I ran into soured me greatly on the military, and life in general.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:23:43 AM EDT
Thanks. I needed that.

Cheers,

kk7sm
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:25:24 AM EDT
Wow...thanks...

I'll pass this along to the airmen in my shop...

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