Veterans History Project

In researching my father’s military service aboard the USS Oneida (APA-221) during World War II, I stumbled across the Veterans History Project. Within that collection, I found an interview with John H. Garner, seaman 1st class, US Navy. Mr. Garner’s experience is similar to my fathers: training at Great Lakes Naval Station and service aboard the USS Oneida (APA-221).

I am thankful for the work of the Library of Congress to organize and preserve these resources and for groups like the Daughters of the American Revolution and other for conducting the interviews. Thru the Veterans History Project, the experiences of our veterans is being preserved.



My Military Heroes

In honor of Veterans’ Day this Friday, I would like to honor my ancestor Veterans.

crawford-eugene-b1927-1945-us-navyWhile still in high school, my father, Eugene David Crawford, enlisted in the US. Navy and attended training at the Naval Training Center (EE & RW) in Gulfport, Mississippi and at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Oneida (APA-221) from May 1946 to July 1946. The U.S.S. Oneida was part of Operation Magic Carpet to bring troops home from the Pacific Theater. Eugene received an honorable discharge from the service in August 1946.

crawford-leon-b1894-1917-wwi-portraitEugene’s father, Leon Russel Crawford, began his military service on 26 Apr 1917 in Dodge City, Kansas and was appointed wagoner 2nd class gunner in the 25th A. A. Battery 1st A.A. Sector. Leon’s unit was at the St. Misner 2nd Battle of the Marne from 31 Mar 1918 to 31 May 1918 in France. Later in 1918, his unit was assigned to the outer defense of Paris. On 28 Mar 1919, Leon received an honorable discharge from the service and returned to Dodge City.

None of my great-grandfathers served in the military. However, most of my great-great grandfathers and one great-great-great grandfather served during the War Between the States.

  • Washington Marion Crawford — Sergt in Co. H of the 2nd Regiment New York Calvary Volunteer — better known as the “Harris Light Horse”. Washington Marion was captured on 22 Sep 1863 in Liberty Mills, Virginia and imprisoned at Andersonville and Belle Isle.
  • Richmond Fisk Hammond – began his military service as a private in Company E 17th Illinois Volunteers later joining the 1st Illinois Cavalry Volunteers and Company D in the 14th Regiment Illinois Cavalry. Richmond was captured near Atlanta and taken as a prisoner to Andersonville on 5 Aug 1864.
  • Hiram M. Currey — served in Company B of the 12th Cavalry Regiment of the Kansas State Militia under Captain Samuel Hollister
  • Albert Hutchinson — served as a private in Company D of the 1st Regiment of the Iowa Cavalry Volunteers commanded by Captain Jinks and re-enlisted as a private in Iowa First Calvary Company D
  • Noah Washington Briles — served as a private in Company I, 1st Regiment Iowa Volunteers
  • Alexander Briles (Noah’s father) — served under Captain John Douglas in Company I of the Kansas State Militia
  • James Marshall Ricketts — served in Company K of the 7th Indiana Cavalry
  • George Mentzer — served in Company C of the Twenty-Foruth Massachusetts Infantry

According to my great-grandmother’s (Josie Hammond Crawford) DAR application, her ancestor, Jason Hammond, served as a private in Captain Coon’s Company of Col. J. Well’s Regiment in the Connecticut line. There is some question as to whether this military record is for my ancestor or another Jason Hammond. Thus, my DAR membership is thru his father, Nathaniel Hammond, for giving service to the cause.

Since almost all of my ancestors were in the colonies prior to the revolutionary war, it is likely that many of them served during the revolutionary war. It is even possible that at least one line traces back to loyalists.

It is thru this type of military service that our country was built. May we all pause to honor our military this week.

My Dad – Seaman 1st Class

Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1945-Navy-SailorPiecing together dad’s military service is a challenge! This is because all of the documents indicate that he graduated from high school while enlisted in the service. His ‘Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service’ indicates he entered active service on 15 Feb 1945 in Gulfport, Miss and served for 1 year, 5 months and 17 days. At the same time, his diploma is dated 17 May 1945 and his name is listed on the program for the 58th Commencement of Dodge City High School held on 17 May 1945.

Even dad had a hard time putting it on a timeline. At two different times, he recorded the events of his military service for me. There are similarities between the two timelines, but there are also differences.

Transcription of first recollection:

  • Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1945-WWII-Service-Record-Recollection1Enlisted for a minority (age 21) ans was sworn in 2/15/1945 in Kansas City went home [17 years old]
  • May ? 1945 went on active duty / sent to Great Lakes Naval Station for boot camp
  • 7 day leave after boot camp
  • Reported to Wright Jr College radar tech school for 1 month 6 weeks
  • Assigned to Gulfport Naval Station radar Tech school
  • While in school Navy decided that students who wished to continue in school had to enlist in regular navy. Parents agreed so I enlisted and received a 30 day leave. Returned to Gulfport to find out the Nave had changed there mind so I was discharged from the regular navy and enlisted in naval reserve
  • Flunked out of school
  • Became Master of Arms of barracks (Gulfport)
  • Sent to Great Lakes Naval training. Put in charge of serving line at recruits mess hall
  • Put on troop train for Treasure Island [Naval Station Treasure Island – San Francisco]
  • Went on board

Transcription of second recollection

Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1945-WWII-Service-Record-Recollection2Date of Service 2/15/45 to 8/1/46

  • Sworn in active duty KC Mo last Sat May 1945
  • Great Lakes Naval Training Center Boot camp – 6 weeks
  • One week leave
  • Wright Jr College Chicago Ill 6 weeks (VE day) [claimed to have celebrated VE day with his cousins in Chicago – VE Day 8 May 1945]
  • Gulfport Naval Station Gulfport MS
  • Discharged from Naval reserve
  • enlisted in reg navy for a minority
  • 30 day leave
  • discharged from reg navy
  • enlisted in naval reserve
  • flunked out of school
  • spent Christmas leave in Gulfport
  • Barracks commander — over 200 men in barracks

1946 [turned 18 in Dec 1945]

From his Honorable Discharge

Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1946-Military-DischargeEugene David Crawford Seaman First Class V-6 USNR is honorably discharged from the U.S. Naval Personnel Separation Center in Norman, Oklahoma and from the Naval Service of the United States this 1st day of August 1946.

From the ‘Affidavit Concerning Naval Record’ on file in the Ford County (Kansas) Courthouse

Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1946-Affidavit-Naval-Record2Eugene David Crawford, 343 46 97 SLC V-6 USNR, U.S. Navy (U.S. Naval Reserve), being first duly sword do submit the following information concerning my naval record which is necessary to complete my record of naval service and do hereby certify that it is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief:

“That I have served outside the continental limits of the United states (outside the three mile limit), while aboard the U.S.S. Oneida (APA-221) from 20 May 1946 to 24 July 1946. This ship operated in the Pacific ocean, around Guam and Samar. I left the States the 1st of June 1946 and returned 16 July 1946.”


Eugene Crawford – back row far right

2nd Generation Railman

1942-Crawford-Leon-Railroad-Picture-webTrains played a large role in my life growing up. Sometimes watching the trains was a form of entertainment. The words ‘switch engine’ and ’roundhouse’ were parts of our vocabulary at a young age. I’m sure this is because my grandfather, Leon Crawford, was a second generation railroad worker.

In our world, granddad worked for the Santa Fe. In adult terms, he was employed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. According to granddad’s railroad retirement records, he started work as a yard helper, switchman and engine foreman in December of 1916. However, his compensation record indicates he also worked for the railroad from April thru November of 1916.


Crawford-Leon-b1894-1917-WWI-Portrait-webThe same compensation record indicates that he wasn’t working from May 1917 thru March 1919. This would coincide with granddad’s military service during World War I. Leon Crawford enlisted on 26 April 1917 in Dodge City, Kansas. He served in the 25th A. A. battery 1st A.A. Sector as a wagoner. He was discharged at Camp Funston, Kansas on 28 March 1919.

One of the stories my grandmother told me about my granddad’s career was about the need for a telephone during the depression. Because of the economic downturn, granddad had been laid off. Some days, the railroad would need the extra workers. On those days, they would call (as in phone call), the laid off employees asking them to come back in. Grandma said that even though they didn’t have much money, they had to have that telephone. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have known about the chance to earn money day to day. For grandma and granddad, that phone was a life line

One of my early memories of my grandfather and trains is of an opportunity that I missed out on. One Saturday morning, my brother(s) and I were promised a chance to ride on a train. Dad told us he had some errands to run and when he got back he would take us to the railyard where granddad would give us a ride. In the meantime, I was supposed to help mom with the laundry. When dad got home, I didn’t get to go with him since I hadn’t helped mom. My brother(s) got to go for a train ride that day.

1960-Crawford-Leon-Switchman-retires-web2Granddad retired from the railroad in May 1960. He was a member of Lodge No. 217 of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and awarded his 50 year veteran’s pin in Feb 1967.



Honoring the Veterans in My Family

Anyone who has lived in Emporia, Kansas realizes that Veteran’s Day is a MAJOR holiday. Tomorrow, we take time to honor those who have served and who are serving. Thus, I would like to take a walk thru my family tree to honor my veteran ancestors.

World War II

Crawford-Eugene-b1927-1945-Navy-SailorEugene Crawford

Between 15 Feb 1945 and 1 Aug 1946, Eugene served at the Naval Training Center in Gulfport, Mississippi and at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. He shipped out on the USS Oneida (APA-221) towards the end of the War in the Pacific as seaman 1st class in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He received the Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal.

ESTHERMIEsther Crawford Noll

Esther served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in the European Theater between 1942 and 1945.

BRILEWA2Walter Emery Briles

Walter enlisted in March 1942 in Los Angeles, California serving in the U.S. Army. Walter was discharged in 1944 but re-enlisted in 1946 and served until 1958.

World War I

LEONMILWWILeon Crawford began his military service on 26 April 1917 in Dodge City, Kansas. He was appointed wagoner 2nd class gunner in the 25th AA Battery, 1st AA Sector. Leon was a wagoner at St. Misner 2nd Battle of the Marne from 31 March 1918 to 31 May 1918 in France.

Leon served with others from Dodge City including his brother-in-law Russel Horton and his brother, Marion.

War between the States

richmond fisk hammond MWCRAW

(On Right) Washington Marion Crawford enlisted in Company H of the 2nd Regiment of the New York Calvary Volunteers on 3 August 1861 serving as a sergeant. W. M. Crawford was captured in September 1863 and was imprisoned in Andersonville and Belle Isle. He was paroled on 7 Dec 1864 in Florence, South Carolina.

(On Left) Richmond Fisk Hammond enlisted as a private in Company E 177 Illinois Volunteers on 26 May 1861. He also served in the 1st Illinois Calvary Volunteers and in Company D 14th Regiment Illinois Calvary. Richmond Hammond was captured near Atlanta, Georgia on 5 Aug 1864 and was imprisoned at Andersonville.

Richmond Hammond and Washington Marion Crawford both moved to Dodge City, Kansas after the war. Richmond’s daughter, Josie, married Washington’s son Judson in Dodge City.

Other Civil War Veterans:

Hiram M. Currey served as a private in Company B of the 12th Regiment of the Kansas State Militia in 1864.

Albert Hutchi(n)son began his military service on 1 Sept 1862 in Independence, Iowa. He served as a private in Company D of the 1st Regiment of the Iowa Calvary Volunteers. Albert re-enlisted on 1 Jan 1864 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Noah Washington Briles enlisted on 13 Jun 1861 in Ottumwa, Iowa serving in Company I of the 1st Regiment Iowa Calvary Volunteers. His father, Alexander Briles served in 1864 under Captain John Douglas in Company I of the Kansas State Militia.

James Marshall Ricketts enlisted 11 Sept 1863 in Indianapolis, Indiana serving in Company K of the 7th Indiana Cavalry.

George Mentzer began his military service on 25 Sep 1861 serving in Company C of the 24th Massachusetts Infantry.

Revolutionary War

Nathaniel Hammond served the revolutionary cause by supplying provisions to the soldiers families between 1776 and 1783 in Bolton, Connecticut.

There could easily be other revolutionary war ancestors in my tree. However, I haven’t proven my descent from any of the other known patriots.