In 1976, a cadet at the Air Force Academy was reading a book on WWII when he realized that the hero in an account of war-time action – and a Medal of Honor recipient – was the janitor who cleaned his dorm! That humble janitor, William J. Crawford, had single-handedly attacked and destroyed two German machine gun nests near Salerno, Italy, in 1943 and been taken prisoner.
The Medal of Honor was awarded to his father because Crawford was presumed dead. Crawford was liberated from the camp after a year and a half and continued to serve in the Army until he retired as a Master Sergeant. He was awarded the MOH in person by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Crawford was a native of Pueblo but built a home near the Air Force Academy where he chose to work anonymously until he died in 2000.
In 2002, a transition home for homeless veterans was named Crawford House to honor MSGT Crawford, the only U.S. Army veteran and sole Medal of Honor winner to be buried in the cemetery of the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Crawford House was established by the Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition (CVRC), a group of local veterans working with the Colorado Springs Veterans Affairs clinic. You can read several accounts of MSGT Crawford’s heroism and information about the mission of Crawford House on the CVRC’s website, www.cvrc-crawfordhouse.org.