(Master Sargent William Crawford)
During his daily readings, my husband recently stumbled on a story that touched his heart.
It was a story that he, in turn, felt compelled to share with me.
It’s that type of story.
It is so much that type of story, that I, in the same like spirit, felt compelled that I should
now share with you.
It’s a story of war, sacrifice, loss, life, discovery as well as that of a quiet and very deep humility.
A forgotten story really.
And it seemed that it was to remain a forgotten story…that was until one day
in 1976 when a young airman cadet, studying at the United States Air Force Academy,
who much like my husband happened upon a particular story during his daily reading…
a story that in turn, deeply touched his heart.
One that he knew he would not only need to investigate but would be compelled to eventually
share in like kind.
It is a story that I pray continues to touch all of our hearts…
It is a story that unfolded in the mid-1970s when a couple of young Air Force Academy cadets
discovered a hidden unknown little fact about their school’s quiet and unassuming janitor.
A story that would have our current culture’s minds racing to the muck and mire of the nefarious…
but rather it was to be a tale that harkened to the amazing and the near miraculous.
Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner,
but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall
oblivious to the greatness that was among them.
In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning
the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special
place in the history of war…
Fast forward to a military dinner in 2011…
Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient
William “Bill” Crawford’s story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered
at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.
Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976,
he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.
Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford,
an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire —
three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.
After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead.
In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year,
Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant.
After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat,
he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.
Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.
“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this,
but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”
The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him.
“He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said,
‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’
Read the full article here:
Crawford’s was a tale of the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
As well as that of a forgotten prisoner of war.
Once released and back home, Crawford reenlisted in the Army and eventually retired from
the Service in 1967.
Eventually making his way to that of janitor at the United States Airforce Academy.
Crawford was once heard to lament that his one regret was that he not had been awarded the medal
honor in person once it was discovered that he was actually alive as a prisoner of war and not
dead as it was presumed.
So unbeknownst to Crawford, in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan came to offer the commencement
speech at the Academy’s graduation, a special presentation had been arranged.
President Reagan would present the Medal of Honor, during the commencement, service to an
When Crawford passed away in 2000, he was awarded one final and unique honor for a non-airforce veteran.
He was buried in the United States Airforce Academy’s cemetery—the only member of the
United States Army afforded such a fitting tribute.
Crawford’s story reminds us of the importance of humility as well as how the ordinary
can always be extraordinary albeit humble and quiet.