The only Fayetteville graduate to die in combat during the Vietnam War was honored on Sept. 16.
Petty Officer Charles Crawford was serving as a Hospital Corpsman with the Marine Corps when his unit came under fire on May 29, 1967.
“Despite the concentrated fire which made it virtually impossible to reach the wounded who were trapped only a few feet from the main enemy bunker, Petty Officer Crawford immediately ran through the deadly hail of enemy fire to reach his injured comrades. After administering aid to the most seriously wounded Marine, and while moving the casualty to a relatively safe area, Petty Officer Crawford himself was fatally wounded,” reads an account of the event.
Crawford was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest medal for valor during combat, second only to the Medal of Honor.
The Marine he died to save survived.
On Sept. 16, Veterans of Foreign War members, local elected officials and others gathered at the flagpole outside Fayetteville-Perry High School to honor Crawford, where a memorial to him was recently placed.
Fayetteville-Perry Superintendent Jim Brady said that the school board and local citizen Joe Huber began working together on the memorial about a year and a half ago.
“The statue is a young boy with a flag folded, looking down at an individual who lost his life serving others,” Brady said.
State Rep. Doug Green and State Senator Joe Uecker also attended the event.
“A memorial like this is what it’s all about. I’m very proud of Fayetteville High School for doing this, and I’m proud to be a part of it today,” said Uecker.
Green said it was appropriate to remember Crawfords deeds.
“This gentleman was a forgotten hero until today, yet we as a community have said that we will not forget. We will always remember those who served and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” Green said.
“I’m always moved when I’m involved in a ceremony like this today because I am so grateful for my freedoms.”
Brady, who served in the Marine Corps, said the ceremony had a special meaning for him.
“As a former Marine for twenty years, I can tell you that there is a strong bond between Marines and Navy Corpsmen. This event today brought home and reinforced that relationship.”
The project was funded completely by donations.
Huber, Jay Holden, Ken mcCarty, The Wells Group and Knights of Columbus, Fr. Sourd Council 2423 were recognized for their help during the event.