MSG William J. Crawford Biography
May 19, 1918 ~ March 15, 2000
MSG William J. Crawford was born in Pueblo, Colorado. He is one of four Medal of Honor recipients from that city.
During World War II, after destroying two machine gun nests, MSG William J. Crawford was taken prisoner by the Germans. While in captivity, he survived a 52 day, 500-mile winter march. He was reported missing in action and presumed dead by the U.S. Army. On May 11, 1944, MSG William J. Crawford’s father accepted the Medal of Honor for his son which was presented posthumously by two-star General Thomas Allen at Camp Carson, Colorado. "Your son was a hero," Major General Allen said. Two months later, the world learned that he had actually survived and was interred in a German prisoner of war camp.
Forty-one years later, President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal of Honor to a very much alive MSG William J. Crawford at the U.S. Air Force Academy on May 31, 1984.
Following the war, MSG William J. Crawford married Eileen Bruce on January 13, 1946. The couple moved to Palmer Lake, Colorado. He was active in Palmer Lake as director of the Lucretia Vaile Museum, president of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, Yule Log Light, election judge, superintendent of Sunday School at the Little Log Church, and a member of the Kiwanis Club and VFW Post #4051.
In January 1995, Jim Sawatzki from Palmer Divide Productions interviewed MSG William J. Crawford regarding his heroic experience during WWII which earned him our Nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor Citation
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Altavilla, Italy, September 13, 1943.
Entered service at: Pueblo, Colo.
Birth: Pueblo, Colo.
G.O. No.: 57, July 20, 1944.
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. Seizing the enemy machinegun, he fired on the withdrawing Germans and facilitated his company's advance.
In The News
The Tribune | "Veteran memorial in works"
While there are many veterans living in northern El Paso County, there has yet to be erected a memorial for any of those...[read more]
The Tribune | "Veteran facility named for local medal recipient"
Almost a decade ago, William J. Crawford agreed his name could be used for an organization dedicated to helping veterans...[read more]