Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr. obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr.

June 16, 1924 - February 7, 2013

Obituary


Col. Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr. (USAF Ret.)
June 16, 1924 - Feb. 7, 2013

Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr., was born on June 16, 1924, in Colon, in the Panama Canal Zone. The son of U.S. Army officer Thomas M. Crawford Sr. and Anne Pond Crawford, he grew up in numerous locations, including Tennessee, California, Washington, Alaska, and the Philippines.

Tom dreamed of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his father had graduated in 1919, and of serving his country as an officer and a pilot. He achieved both those...

Col. Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr. (USAF Ret.)
June 16, 1924 - Feb. 7, 2013

Thomas Maurice Crawford, Jr., was born on June 16, 1924, in Colon, in the Panama Canal Zone. The son of U.S. Army officer Thomas M. Crawford Sr. and Anne Pond Crawford, he grew up in numerous locations, including Tennessee, California, Washington, Alaska, and the Philippines.

Tom dreamed of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his father had graduated in 1919, and of serving his country as an officer and a pilot. He achieved both those objectives during a distinguished 30-year military career.

After graduating in 1943 from Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tenn., he briefly attended New York's Syracuse University. In 1944 he was admitted to the Army Air Corps aviation cadet program. He completed navigator school at Selman Field, La., and was commissioned as a reserve second lieutenant. In 1945 he attended Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., served as a navigation instructor at Westover Field, Mass., and was preparing for deployment overseas as a B-24 navigator when he was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1949 he graduated from West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Tom met his future wife Sandra McAllister during the 1948 Christmas holiday on New York's Governor's Island, where their fathers were stationed. Tom was a first classman at West Point and Sandy was attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Both were there visiting their families when they agreed to go out on a blind double date. Though the original plan was for Tom and his friend Chuck Agnew to have different partners, Tom insisted that they switch so that he could escort Sandy. A friendship was struck that was to last 63 years, and in December 1949, several months after Tom graduated from the Academy, they were married at her parents' home in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

He started pilot training at Perrin Air Force Base, near Sherman, Tex., and then at Vance Air Force Base, in Enid, Okla. After graduating in 1950, he stayed on at Vance AFB as an advanced pilot instructor in B-25s. While stationed in Enid, Tom and Sandy began their family with the birth of their first two children, also named Tom and Sandy.

During the Korean conflict, in 1952 and 1953, he flew T-6 Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft as a forward air controller, and later served as squadron operations officer. While stationed there he completed Army Parachutist School (jump school) in Japan. Returning to the U.S. in 1953, he was a T-6 pilot instructor at Luke AFB (Arizona) and then a T-33 and B-25 instructor at Perrin AFB. There Tom and Sandy's third child, Doris, was born.

In 1955 Capt. Crawford joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force Academy at Lowry AFB in Denver, Colo., as a military training officer. Later he became the first Air Officer Commanding (tactical officer) of the Academy's Eighth Cadet Squadron. He played an important role in the early development of the Academy and its founding traditions, including serving as officer in charge of the Ring and Crest Committees and on the committee to work with the cadets on choosing their mascot, the falcon. While the family was stationed in Denver, son Edwin (Chuck) was born.

In 1958, as the Academy was transferring to its permanent location in Colorado Springs, the Crawford family moved to Boulder, where in 1960 Tom earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado. During their time there, the family's youngest daughter Debra was born.

Tom was assigned in 1960 to the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, N. Mex. He was initially the special weapons project officer for B-47 and B-52 aircraft, and later became the chief of strategic systems for both missiles and aircraft.

His education and experience with missile technology earned Tom a transfer to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. (on loan from the Air Force), where from 1964 to 1968 he worked on the Apollo space program. Starting with project analysis for the lunar module, he eventually progressed to chief of Apollo program planning.

Tom volunteered for duty in South Vietnam, where he served in 1968 and 1969 - initially as a forward air controller and later as director of the Direct Air Support Center Alpha in Nha Trang.

After attending the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Ala., where he graduated as a distinguished graduate in 1970, Tom was assigned to the Pentagon. He served there as chief of the Project Development Division for the Directorate of Space in 1970 through 1972, and then as deputy director of space until 1974.

That year, he was named the deputy chief of staff for operations of the Fourteenth Aerospace Force - also known as the Flying Tigers - at its headquarters at Ent AFB in Colorado Springs. After being promoted to vice commander in 1975 and then commander of the Fourteenth Aerospace Force until its deactivation in Oct. 1976, Tom retired from active duty in the Air Force in July 1977.

After moving to Littleton, Colo., with his wife Sandy, he went to work for aerospace contractor Martin Marietta. During his 10 years there, he was director of planning, security, and publications, and worked in other areas where his knowledge was needed.

Upon retiring in Jan. 1987, Tom was able to pursue his love of fishing, stamp collecting, and reading his favorite authors (Tom Clancy, Tony Hillerman, Clive Cussler, and others). Throughout much of his retirement he worked on chronicling his experiences in Korea, and maintained friendships with an extended network of former Mosquito colleagues. He conducted extensive research into MIA-KIA-POWs of the Mosquito organization from the Korean War, which was contained in seven volumes that were placed in the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB.

He was a member of the Association of Graduates of West Point (Denver chapter), the Rocky Mountain Philatelic Society, the Daedalians, Air Force Academy Athletic Association (lifetime member), Mosquito Association, VFW, American Legion, and many other military organizations. Among the many decorations and service awards he received are the Legion of Merit (with one oak leaf cluster), Distinguished Flying Cross (with one oak leaf cluster), and Air Medal (with seven oak leaf clusters).

Tom Crawford was preceded in death by his son, Chuck; his parents, Thomas Sr. and Anne Crawford; and sister Anne Crawford Vickers. He is survived by his beloved wife Sandra; sister Barbara Crawford Deaton (Gil); son Tom III (Col. USAF Ret.) (Kendra); daughters Sandy Cox (Paul), Doris Boardman (Phil), and Debbie Crawford-Arensman (Russ); daughter-in-law Kim Crawford; and grandchildren Cailey Arensman, Luke Boardman, and Erica Arensman.

Memorial services will be held Friday, February 15, at Olinger Chapel Hill Mortuary, 6601 So. Colorado Blvd. in Centennial at 10:00AM. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions may be made to Porter/St. Anthony Hospice, 1391 Speer Blvd., Suite 600, Denver CO 80204, http://www.chahf.org/PorterHospice.