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Obituary: Harold R. Crawford, Rocky Ford Road

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Rocky Ford Road

Harold R. Crawford, 92, of Rocky Ford Road passed away at 9:10 a.m. Friday May 2, 2014 at Four Season Retirement Center in Columbus. Harold was born November 4, 1921 in Los Angeles, California to Clarence H. and Edelle Byfield Crawford. His parents returned to Indiana when he was four years old and he grew up in Columbus.

After graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 6, 1941, nine months before Pearl Harbor and the start of WWII. He qualified for Cadet School and received his commission and Navigator Wings at San Marcos, Texas and was transferred to Casper, Wyoming where he met and trained with his B-24 Bomber Crew. The training prepared them for flying the mountainous regions of China with the Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force, commanded by General Claire Lee Chennault. His crew maintained a lifetime friendship. He was released from active duty at the end of the war into active reserve status, returned home to Columbus and married Frieda J. Fateley.

He graduated from Purdue University in February 1949 with a degree in civil engineering and began his engineering career in bridge design with the Indiana State Highway Department.

He was recalled to active duty in 1951 with the Air Force during the Korean War and was stationed in Europe with a B-26 bomber unit that rotated some crews to Korea.

Again a civilian, he was hired by the American Electric Power Company based in New York as an estimator and then assistant project engineer on power plants in Indiana and Virginia. Harold came back to Columbus in 1960 and joined SEICO Consulting Engineers (now Strand) where he headed the construction department for 22 years.

During the years between Air Force active duty, he flew with reserve units stationed in Marietta, Georgia and the 434th Wing at Bakalar. The “Week-end Warriors” trained two weekends a month and participated in several temporary active duty missions that included recovering capsules in the early NASA programs, ferrying planes to allies in the Far East and extended duty at Homestead AFB, Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His 71st squadron of the 434th Wing was called to active duty in May of 1968 and trained for combat duty in AC-119 gunships. The plane known as “Shadows” flew night missions in Viet Nam. He retired from the Air Force in 1981 with the rank of Lt. Colonel and Command Navigator. The Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and Air Medal with six Clusters were among his medals and awards.

Harold was an avid reader and enjoyed researching history and science and never tired of traveling the United States and other countries. His hikes with a local group included hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to rim, the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains.

He was a member of Asbury United Methodist Church, the Professional Engineers Society, life member of the Society of Civil Engineers, a charter member of the former Morning Exchange Club, the Purdue Alumna Association, life member of the VFW and the Air Force Association. His family heritage entitled him to be a member of The Sons of the American Revolution and the Society of Indiana Pioneers.

He is survived by Frieda, his wife of 68 years; a nephew, Jerry A. Lane; and cousins, Julia Crawford Gray, Janice Crawford Stricker, Beth Crawford Stevenson and Frank and Pat Thompson. His parents; a sister, Clarene Crawford Lane; and a niece, Barbara Lane Turvin preceded him in death.

Funeral services will held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home, 3855 25th St., with the Rev. David Blystone officiating. Burial will follow at Garland Brook Cemetery with full military honors provided by the United States Air Force. The family will receive friends on Monday from 4 until 7:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Our Hospice of South Central Indiana or Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum through the funeral home.

You are invited to light a virtual candle and send a message to the family via the internet.

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