RIMERSBURG – John Austin Crawford survived battles against the Japanese in World War II, but a fight to memorialize his legacy continues on several years after his death three years ago.
Crawford’s grandson, Edward Crawford II of the small village of Phillipston in southern Clarion County, has taken up the battle of trying to have his grandfather’s service to his country recognized with the placement of his grandfather’s name on one of the veterans’ memorial walls in the area. Unfortunately, because of where the elder Crawford lived, that task has taken decades.
“Granddad always wanted to be on the Rimersburg wall because he lived in Phillipston his entire life and had a Rimersburg address,” Edward Crawford said recently.
He said his grandfather lobbied for years to have his name included on the memorial wall in the Rimersburg Veterans Memorial Park before his death at the age of 84 several years ago.
Edward Crawford said that he and his grandfather were told many times that the wall was only for veterans who lived in the municipalities of Rimersburg Borough, Madison Township and Toby Township at the time they went into the service, or who lived in one of those municipalities for at least 10 years after their service.
The problem, he explained, is that even though everyone in Phillipston has a Rimersburg address, the village is located in the tiny municipality of Brady Township, located between Madison Township and East Brady Borough in southern Clarion County.
Finding no success in Rimersburg, Edward Crawford said his grandfather also tried over the years to have his name added to the memorial wall in East Brady, but was told at the time that he also didn’t meet their criteria for inclusion.
“Granddad fought to be put on a wall for years,” Edward Crawford said. “The guy fought for our country; he should be on some wall.”
John Austin Crawford Jr., born Dec. 23, 1925 in Phillipston, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps out of Pittsburgh on Oct. 15, 1943, at the age of 17. Military documents show that he served from July 9, 1944 to Jan. 27, 1946 in the Asiatic Pacific area of the war, taking part in battles against the Japanese on the islands of Peleliu and Okinawa.
During his service, Crawford reached the rank of corporal, with qualifications as a rifle sharpshooter and amphibian tractor mechanic. He received the Good Conduct Medal and was issued an Honorable Service Lapel Button.
After the war, he came home to Phillipston where he worked as a coal miner and owned a coal mine for many years.
Now, several years after his death, his grandson said it’s time for his grandfather’s service to be recognized.
He said he recently reached out again to the committee that oversees the memorial wall in Rimersburg. While some members appear to be sympathetic to his cause, he was told he first needed to make a written request to East Brady, and if denied there again, the Rimersburg group could consider a change to its bylaws to allow Crawford onto its wall.
In talking with a representative in East Brady this past week, Edward Crawford said the man he spoke with was surprised by past denials, and said he thought that Crawford’s grandfather would be eligible to be included in the East Brady memorial wall. As of press time, no formal decision had been announced.
“His name needs to be on a wall somewhere,” Edward Crawford concluded.