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First Name: William

Last Name: Crawford

Birthplace: Pueblo, CO, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Pueblo, CO
Middle Name: John

Date of Birth: 19 May 1918

Date of Death: 15 March 2000

Rank: Master Sergeant

Years Served: 1942 - 1945, 1947 - 1967
William John Crawford

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William J. Crawford
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Master Sergeant William John Crawford (19 May 1918 - 15 March 2000) was a U.S. Army soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II.

William J. Crawford was born on 19 May 1918 in Pueblo, CO. He later joined the U.S. Army from that city. On 13 September 1943, he 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, Crawford was captured by the Germans and presumed dead. So in 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father. Later in the year, Crawford was among a group of soldiers rescued from German captivity.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 36th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Altavilla, Italy, 13 September 1943.

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. Seizing the enemy machinegun, he fired on the withdrawing Germans and facilitated his company's advance.

On 13 January 1946, Crawford married Eileen Bruce. 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.

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.

He is one of four Medal of Honor recipients from Pueblo, CO; the others being: Drew Dennis Dix, Raymond G. Murphy, and Carl L. Sitter.

Death and Burial

Master Sergeant William J. Crawford died at age 81 on 15 March 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, CO.

Honoree ID: 1349   Created by: MHOH




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