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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

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The President

and

The Janitor
Conclusion

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Private William Crawford was happy to be home, happy to be away from war, and for a time he was happy to be a civilian.  He returned to modest accolades in his hometown, where he preferred to be just another "ordinary" citizen.  He met and married Eileen, and began a family that would eventually spread his love to two children of his own.  Then, he returned to military service, much of it as an Army recruiter in his home town of Pueblo, Colorado.

In 1958, Bill Crawford was one of the Medal of Honor recipients selected to participate  as the honor guard for the burial of the Unknown Soldiers of World War II and Korea.  Everyone knew that Bill Crawford had the Medal of Honor, and the award itself had been transferred to him by his father upon his return.  But when Bill Crawford retired from the United States Army in 1967, he was one of the few men in history to wear the award without having every formally received it.   It had been presented posthumously to his father.

It was upon his retirement that Bill Crawford built, with his own hands, a large but modest house in the small community of Palmer Lake, Colorado.  From there it was a short commute to the Air Force Academy, where he performed his duties as a janitor.  Everyone knew Bill and Eileen Crawford, and everyone who knew them came to love them.  Few people ever knew however, the true measure of the man.  Even in a community as small as Palmer Lake, most residents didn't know that the man who lived down the street was one of the great heroes of American history. 

Such awards can not go unnoticed, however, at a military institution like the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Every spring, Bill Crawford would pull his Army Dress Blues out of the closet and drive the short distance to the Academy to present the "Outstanding Cadet" award to a member of the graduating class.  Seventeen years after his retirement, the most beloved janitor in Colorado Springs prepared for this annual ritual, only this time there was a new twist. 

 

crawford_presentation.jpg (20854 bytes)On May 30, 1984 the presenter became the presentee.  The commencement speaker that year was the President of the United States, President Ronald Reagan.  Looking over the sea of young faces that represented the very best our Nation has to offer, he said:  "America's men and women of today have made us a great Nation."  And then the President turned his attention to the past, calling forward a 66-year old janitor crisply dressed in a uniform that still fit his trim frame.  Forty years  after his heroism at Altavilla, Italy and 17 years after his retirement from a military career, the President hung the Medal of Honor around the janitor's neck.  The cadets themselves, had decided proper recognition of their janitor was long overdue, and had taken steps to see an "oversight" corrected.

 

 

"This country is worth fighting for.  I've been to other countries and can appreciate being back here...I must have been blessed to have something like this (Medal of Honor) given to me."

William J. Crawford, MSGT, US Army (Ret)

bn_green.gif (852 bytes)   Click Here to Read Bill Crawford's MOH Citation

Click HERE to Read
A Janitor's Ten Lessons In Leadership
By Col. James Moschgat

Colonel Moschgat is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy where he first encountered Bill Crawford as a janitor, and came to know him as a TRUE hero and leader.

 

On foreign shores, on the date of May 8, 1945 Private William J. Crawford received his freedom and knew the joy of going home.  On the morning of March 15, 2000 the man I looked up to as a father received a new kind of freedom and made one more trip "Home".  This is for me, as the Hall of Heroes webmaster, perhaps the most difficult story I've ever written.  Bill Crawford was the inspiration that first drew me to the activities that have consumed my life for the last ten years.  This website exists because of his influence on my life, his friendship to my family, and his challenges to me to make a difference on the future.  I'll miss you Bill, and I hope as you watch us continue our small efforts from the presence of God Whom you loved and served all your life, that I will make you proud.  And Bill, one last thing...don't look for the mops or brooms...there are no floors to clean in Heaven. 

Your "son",
Doug

 

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