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    Legacy Set In Stone: MoH Recipient and Hometown Hero Honored with Building Dedication

    Legacy Set In Stone: MoH Recipient and Hometown Hero Honored with Building Dedication

    Photo By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed | Retired Col. Bruce “Snake” Crandall, Medal of Honor recipient and Olympia, Wash.,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. ShaTyra Reed 

    16th Combat Aviation Brigade

    JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – His legacy has lived longer than most of the Soldiers who currently wear the flash that was embellished on his aircraft as it stared down the enemy in the jungles of Vietnam. Now this legacy is set in stone to honor a local hero and Vietnam War veteran whose actions seem more like a folklore written in a movie.

    On the eve of the 55th anniversary of the historic Battle of Ia Drang, 1-229th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade dedicated its headquarters building to retired Col. Bruce “Snake” Crandall, here on Nov. 13.

    “It is a great privilege to be here today to celebrate the dedication of this building and to honor the legacy of Col. Crandall and his teammates who left an incredible mark on generations of warfighters,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Easter, commander of 1-229th ARB. “It is through his legacy of exemplary commitment and service that this structure at 31290 Faith Avenue will serve as a place of purpose.”

    Crandall, an Olympia, Wash., native, and high school All-American baseball player, dreamed of being drafted by the New York Yankees, but instead he was drafted by the Army in 1953 at the age of 20 years old. He created a military career that spans decades.

    After attending aviation school and receiving his commission as an officer in 1954, Crandall spent nearly the first decade of his military career on mapping missions over Alaska, North Africa, and Latin America.

    In 1963, he reported to Fort Benning to help lead a new unit that would become known as the air cavalry. Two years later, then-Maj. Crandall arrived in Vietnam as the commanding officer of the 1st Cavalry Division's Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion at An Khe, Vietnam. Using the call sign "Ancient Serpent 6," he led a flying unit supporting eight battalions on the ground.

    Crandall received the Medal of Honor in 2007 for his heroic actions on Nov. 14, 1965. He led the first major division operation of airmobile troops into Landing Zone X-Ray in Vietnam's Ia Drang Valley with his wing man and fellow Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Ed Freeman. After four successful trips on a search-and-destroy mission from Plei Me to Landing Zone X-Ray, the enemy had targeted the site. Crandall and eight other unarmed helicopters came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the other helicopters to abort the mission.

    As an officer, Crandall always put his men before himself. Although it wasn’t his mission, Crandall volunteered to deliver ammunition to the trapped Soldiers and evacuate the wounded.

    “He went in and out under intense enemy fire into a hell storm that awaited them on that landing strip,” said Easter.

    After 14 hours in the air and 22 flights, Crandall and Freeman had evacuated atleast 70 wounded men. The two also flew in the ammunition needed for the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment (Custer's old battalion) to survive. The aircraft he was flying was unarmed. They had provided a lifeline that allowed the battalion to survive the day.

    Current Soldiers assigned to the very company that Crandall commanded 55 years ago stood in the chilling, downpour of rain to pay their respects to an aviation pioneer who paved the way from them.

    “At any time when people walk through those doors, they will see the legacy of the guys who were in the business quite a while ago,” said Crandall. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet with the young folks who are carrying the ball now.”

    Bearing his name, Crandall Hall will honor not only the contributions which led to him receiving the highest award for valor, but also his continued devotion as a Soldier and a selfless leader.

    “The leaders and Soldiers who pass by the placard yet to be revealed will understand completely what it means to never quit nor leave a fallen comrade,” said Easter.

    Crandall retired from the Army in 1977 and went on to fulfill a career in public works for almost two decades. But hanging up the uniform didn’t stop Crandall from serving as an aviation pioneer for generations to come. After years of public service, Crandall was instrumental in developing countless air assault and Army aviation tactics and principal. He proved influential in bringing the production of the AH-64 Apache.

    “I’ve been tied into this uniform for a long time,” said Crandall. “I spent 18 years building this bird, and the one before it and the one before it.”

    Crandall helped consult for the 2002 Mel Gibson movie based on the book, "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young." Played by Greg Kinnear, Crandall’s heroic actions during the Battle of Ia Drang were recreated in the movie. But no longer will his contributions to our country be hidden in the 140-minute Hollywood war film, the legacy Col. Bruce “Snake” Crandall will forever lay in brick at the headquarters of the 1-229th ARB.

    “While the memories of those fateful days in the Ia Drang may fade, the lessons of commitment and service Col. Crandall displayed throughout his remarkable career will be echoed in these halls for years to come,” said Easter. “This building will forever tie Col. Crandall and the troopers of A Company to the warriors present and future who will walk those halls.”



    Date Taken: 11.13.2020
    Date Posted: 12.31.2020 23:49
    Story ID: 386353
    Hometown: OLYMPIA, WA, US

    Web Views: 394
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