I recently profiled the extraordinary life story (and lessons) of MSgt William Crawford, a quiet and unassuming janitor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs whom cadets discovered was the recipient of a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in World War II.
The Academy is about 50 miles north of Crawford’s hometown of Pueblo, Co. When researching MSgt Crawford’s background, I discovered something special about Pueblo that I should have known but did not, despite having driven through the town several times and made one “unplanned” landing there for fuel. What I recall about the latter is that the grass between the runway slabs made for a bumpy landing, and the truck that fueled our B-737 MAX seemed better equipped for servicing a Cessna 150.
Much more importantly, what I learned is that Pueblo was not only the hometown of MSgt Crawford but also three other recipients: Carl L. Sitter (USMC, Korea), Raymond G. “Jerry” Murphy (USMC, Korea), and Drew D. Dix (USA, Vietnam), all of whom were either born or raised in Pueblo. There is only one other municipality in the U.S. — Holland, Michigan — that can claim to have been the hometown of four Medal of Honor recipients, one of whom is among the two most highly decorated Medal of Honor recipients in history, LTC Matt Urban. His awards are rivaled only by those of 2LT Audie Murphy.
In 1953, upon awarding 2ndLt Raymond Murphy his Medal of Honor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower quipped: “What is it, something in the water out there in Pueblo? All you guys turn out to be heroes!” As the former Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, Ike understood the full implications of the actions that merited a Medal of Honor. Former Seventh United States Army General George Patton once observed, “I’d sell my immortal soul for that Medal.”
In chronological order of their actions as noted in their respective citations listed with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a rather exclusive society because membership requires a Medal of Honor, what follows is a brief profile of each recipient.
A career Marine officer, then-Capt Carl L. Sitter (1922–2000) was a World War II Veteran and Silver Star recipient for his actions on Guam. He distinguished himself as a leader in Korea on November 29 and 30, 1950, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Serving with the First Marines, First Marine Division, his Medal of Honor citation (https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/carl-l-sitter) concludes: “Painfully wounded in the face, arms, and chest by bursting grenades, he staunchly refused to be evacuated and continued to fight on until a successful defense of the area was assured with a loss to the enemy of more than 50 percent dead, wounded, and captured. His valiant leadership, superb tactics, and great personal valor throughout 36 hours of bitter combat reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Sitter and the U.S. Naval Service.”
Then-2ndLt Raymond G. Murphy (1930–2007) also served in Korea, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, until severely wounded. His Medal of Honor citation concludes: “Wounded a second time while conducting the entire force to the line of departure through a continuing barrage of enemy small-arms, artillery, and mortar fire, he again refused medical assistance until assured that every one of his men, including all casualties, had preceded him to the main lines. His resolute and inspiring leadership, exceptional fortitude, and great personal valor reflect the highest credit upon 2d Lt. Murphy and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.”
Finally, Vietnam, and the heroic service of then-SSG Drew Dix, an Army 5th Special Forces Group advisor to the ARVN in Chau Phu, South Vietnam. His Medal of Honor citation concludes: “Dix’s personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of the 14 United States and free-world civilians. The heroism of S/Sgt. Dix was in the highest tradition and reflects great credit upon the U.S. Army.”
MSgt Crawford, Col Sitter, Capt Murphy, and Maj Dix, your examples of valor — humble American Patriots defending your fellow warriors and Liberty for all — above and beyond the call of duty, and in disregard for the peril to your own life, are eternal. “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
(Join us in prayer for our nation’s Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please consider a designated gift to support the National Medal of Honor Sustaining Fund through Patriot Foundation Trust (https://patriotfoundationtrust.org), or make a check payable to NMoH Sustaining Fund and mail to: Patriot Foundation Trust, PO Box 407, Chattanooga, TN 37401-0407. Visit the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center at Aquarium Plaza.