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News :: Vinton Gold Star wife finally receives husbandís WWII medals
· 12:23pm May 23rd, 2012
He taught her how to ride her bike.
Not many women can say that about their husbands, but Vinton resident Frances Crawford Lynch remembers clearly the day when she tried on her own to ride a sibling’s bike outside her home in Douds, Iowa.
“I would get on the steps by the house, ride my bike until I would fall over, then walk back to the steps to try again,” she recalled.
Soon, Stanley Crawford came over. Stanley was older, a neighbor, and a friend of her brother’s.
“He helped me learn to ride my bike that day,” Frances recalls. “He was always there.”
Ten years older than Frances, Stanley was always a friend of her family. He was her friend as well.
“I had other boyfriends in high school, but he was always available when I needed a ride. He was my best friend,” she calls.
After high school, at age 20, Frances married her best friend. But World War II took him away.
For a while, though, Frances and Stanley were together as much as possible. She had followed him all over the U.S. as he trained for service. She was there at Fort Benning, Ga., when Stanley made his first jump from an airplane – it was the also the first time he had ever been in a plane.
“I asked him if he was scared, but he said, ‘It wouldn’t matter if I was because they just push you out.”
On Feb. 27, 1945, almost five years after she married him, a Japanese bullet took him away from Frances forever.
PFC Stanley Crawford, a paratrooper with the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team, was helping clear caves on the island near the entrance of Manilla Bay.
“Stanley’s squad was leading a patrol that was clearing out one end of the island,” wrote Crawford’s commander, Captain Lyle Murphy. “Stanley was in front leading his squad, and after clearing out one cave was mortally wounded by an enemy hidden in another cave. His courage and bravery are an inspiration to the men of his squad."
“Buy some gold paint”
A few months earlier, Stanley had written to his mother, telling her that she probably needed to get some gold paint, to turn the Blue Star banner hanging in her window to the Gold Star banner that indicates that a family has lost a soldier in battle.
“He knew things were getting pretty bad over there,” says Frances.
PFC Crawford was one of 169 members of the 503rd to die in Corregidor.
The 503rd history page includes this information about the Corregidor:
The Combat Team jumped on Fortress Corregidor on 16 February 1945to liberate that Islandfrom occupying Japanese forces. This was the most vicious combat action in which the Combat Team engaged during its existence. Corregidorwas the bastion which withstood a fierce Japanese siege for nearly five months in 1941 and 1942, thereby interrupting the Japanese advance toward Australia. The 503rd was proud to have been allowed to have the honor of recapturing the Island. Japanese sources, within recent years have estimated there were 6550 Japanese on the Islandwhen the 503rd landed. Of those, only 50 survived. The 503rd, however, lost 169 men killed and many wounded or injured. The 503rd was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions. Private Lloyd G. McCarter was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery on Corregidor.
It was not until several days later, in March of 1945, that Frances knew her husband had been killed in action. The official telegram was sent to Stanley’s mother, who notified Frances of his death in a letter.
Frances and Stanley had one son, Dennis.
Stanley was buried with honors at the military cemetery at Bataan. Later his body was sent back home to Iowa, where he was laid to rest in his home town of Douds. Frances was not present for the burial in Iowa. By then she had remarried and had recently given birth to her daughter, Pat. The obituary for Stanley did not even mention Frances, although it mentioned the couple's son.
Almost every year, Frances, usually accompanied by her daughter, Pat, has made a pilgrimage to Stanley's grave in their hometown of Douds.
Pat joined her mother and a couple of friends when Roger Uthoff presented PFC Stanley Crawford’s medals to the widow on Tuesday morning.
Frances had never received those medals, and her request for them was complicated by the fact that Stanley’s records were among those lost in a fire.
Frances and her second husband, now deceased, farmed in the Otterville and Brandon areas for many years. After his death, Pat moved to Vinton. Along with Stanley’s medals, she also has the letter from his commander following his death, and a variety of pins, including the Gold Star Wives pin.
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