Once again one of my veteran pals tipped me off to another veteran who honorably served our country and this week, thanks to Jim Hackett, USMC Vietnam veteran, I bring you another Vietnam veteran, Jack Crawford. Jack and I recently met on a Sunday morning at Valencia’s Corner Bakery and we had a fine chat about his military service and his life in general.
Strong Work Ethic
Jack Morris Crawford was born July 31, 1945, in New Albany, Indiana, where he grew up and graduated from New Albany High School on June 21, 1963. While growing up, Jack quickly learned a strong work ethic, beginning at 10 years of age delivering the New Albany newspaper on his bicycle every afternoon. During high school, Jack worked in his public library and he was a sportscaster in his senior year. Jack said with pride, “My high school owned and operated the very first school radio station in our entire United States of America.” After high school, Jack attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute, graduating in June 1968 with his bachelor’s degree in radio and television. Jack reminded me that Indiana State University was basketball hall of famer Larry Bird’s alma mater and that Terre Haute was the town where the infamous Timothy McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001.
Uncle Sam’s Greeting
In 1965, Jack began working for commercial radio and after college he worked for radio station WKLO for a short stint. Shortly after Jack graduated from Indiana State University he abruptly received his “greeting letter” from Uncle Sam informing him that he was drafted. Jack entered the U.S. Army on Oct. 2, 1968, reporting to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for 12 weeks of basic training. Next, Jack was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Army’s artillery installation, for eight weeks of advanced infantry training (AIT). Following AIT, Jack received a two-week leave of absence before flying out of Louisville, Kentucky, to Saigon, the Republic of South Vietnam’s Tân Sơn Nhứt airport. Following a few days at Long Binh, Jack received orders to report to the 4th Infantry Division’s Head Quarters Company at Camp Enari located at Dragon Mountain near Pleiku in the Central Highlands.
Good Morning, Vietnam
Camp Enari was routinely rocketed and mortared by Viet Cong guerilla fighters and North Vietnamese Army regulars, but Jack’s closest call came during a routine jungle patrol via armored personnel carriers. During an enemy ambush, several infantry troopers paid the ultimate sacrifice and several soldiers were wounded in action. Ordinarily, Jack’s duties were limited to Camp Enari. However, on this occasion, as his unit’s public information officer, Jack was on that patrol performing hometown radio interviews for the troops. Jack’s duties included truck driver, jeep driver for officers, radio newscaster and disc jockey playing popular rock and roll records. He was literally the 4th ID’s equivalent of the famous Adrian Cronauer, who was portrayed by Robin Williams in Hollywood’s movie, “Good Morning Vietnam.”
Extended Tour of Duty
As Jack’s 12-month tour of duty came to an end, he learned that if he extended his tour by two more months, he would receive an “early out” after Vietnam from the U.S. Army. On May 10, 1970, Jack was honorably discharged and he returned to his parents’ home in New Albany and went right back to work at the WKLO radio station. While on the job, Jack was attracted to Belinda, a striking co-worker who was in charge of commercial production. Once his nerve was up, Jack asked her out to dinner and a movie, which led to four months of dating and marriage in Crestwood, Kentucky, on April 14, 1973. Soon, Jack landed a job as program director for Nashville’s rock and roll radio station WKDF, so he and Belinda moved their mobile home there, where he worked for five years. At Nashville, son Jason was born in 1975 and Jeremy in 1977.
Loving Santa Clarita’s Lifestyle
Following his WKDF stretch, Jack became radio consultant for three years with Drake-Chenault Co. in Canoga Park, California, and he moved his family to Simi Valley. In 1981, Jack took another position as manager with KOS Radio so it was back to Nashville and that led to several other radio jobs until 1993, when he moved his family to Saugus. Jack worked for seven years with Westwood One Radio Network located in the Valencia Industrial Center and then three years with the Associated Press (AP). AP began consolidating its headquarter operations in Washington, D.C., and offered Jack a position there, but because Jack and his family fell in love with Santa Clarita’s lifestyle he declined to relocate his family once again. In 2004 Jack and Belinda seized an opportunity to purchase a UPS Store in Castaic that they own and operate to this day. While Jack manages day to day operations, Belinda handles accounting and payroll.
About Jack and Belinda
Jack said he absolutely loves hiking Santa Clarita Valley’s open spaces and he speculated that he’s hiked every trail more than once. Jack proudly pointed out that Belinda was director of SCV Food Pantry for 15 years and their son Jason has worked for 18 years with the city of Santa Clarita, and son Jeremy works for AMS Fulfillment Co. in Valencia. Jack noted that his father Morris Crawford served in World War II with the U.S. Navy and he recently visited Washington D.C. via “honor flights” to visit the city’s amazing monuments. Meanwhile, Jack’s UPS store, along with all other Los Angeles UPS Stores, annually sponsors 10 World War II veterans with honor flights to D.C. Morris Crawford’s proudest experience aboard the USS McDougal was in August 1941 when they escorted President Franklin Roosevelt to meet British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the North Atlantic. Thank you for your honorable service to our country, Jack and Morris Crawford. Jack, it was a sincere pleasure meeting you and I must say that you and your wonderful family members are a wonderful asset to our fine community.
Medal shown is Jack Crawford’s Vietnam Campaign Medal.