Today February 4, 2014 we add another name to our “Almost Home” group of Shelby County, Texas World War II veterans who were killed in action and are either still missing in action or buried in an overseas American Cemetery.
Thanks to Ann Magness who brought this to my attention we honor Richard Elton Crawford known to his friends as Dick. Mr. Crawford was born in Shelby County in the month of February, 1921. His father was Robert Lee Crawford (1883 – 1942) and mother Lela Dell Clemmer (1888 – 1980). The 1930 census shows he had three brothers, Dewitt, Ernest and Cecil and one sister, Hazel. A younger sister Vernell died at 5 months in September 1926. All of his other siblings were older than Mr. Crawford and his father was listed as a farmer.
His military record from the National Archives shows his education as grammar school. Mr. Crawford joined the US Army at the age of 19 on February 21st, 1940. He was assigned to the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. After serving over two years his father died on July 7th, 1942 and nine days later he married Annis Mae Andrews on July 16th, 1942.
The 3rd Division is one of the few American divisions that fought the Axis on all European fronts and was among the first U.S. combat units to engage in offensive ground combat operations during World War II. During World War II, the division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for 531 consecutive days of combat. According to an article written by the staff at HistoryNet it is quite probable no other regiment in the US Army exceeded the 7th in combat time during World War II. On 15 August 1944, another D-Day, the division landed at St. Tropez, advanced up the Rhone Valley, through the Vosges Mountains, and reached the Rhine at Strasbourg, 26–27 November 1944. (Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Infantry_Division_(United_States).
It was during this fighting that Staff Sergeant Richard Crawford was killed in action on Monday, November 20th, 1944 at the age of 23. Sometime previous to this he had also been wounded in action. As with many others during World War II, his family decided to bury him with his comrades. Sergeant Crawford is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery in Lorraine, France at Plot B, Row 26, Grave 32. This month he would have celebrated his 93rd Birthday – Happy Birthday Dick.