Leon Crawford, Oral History, Part One of Two
This is part one of a two part video recording of an oral history interview with Leon Crawford. It was conducted March 8, 2016. The interviewer is Madison Garcia.
In this interview, Leon Crawford discusses his service in the Navy during World War II and his participation in the Invasion of Guam as a Seabee. He also discusses his work to help rebuild the island.
Leon Crawford was born in Mansfield, Louisiana where his family worked as farmers. Crawford became interested in joining the military and fighting in World War II after seeing wounded veterans return home. He tried to join the Air Force at age 17 but his mother refused to sign his enlistment papers. In 1944 Crawford joined the Navy because the enlistment papers only required the signature of one parent, and he knew that his father would sign. Crawford attended basic training at Camp Wallace in Texas.
Following basic training, Crawford was shipped to Pearl Harbor, the Marshall Islands, and finally the Mariana Islands. Crawford and the Navy Seabee Battalion worked as ammunition support for the 3rd Division of the Marines during the Invasion of Guam in April of 1944. After Guam was capturedd by Allied forces, the Seabee battalion that Crawford was in helped rebuild the island. Crawford worked as a machine operator in Company D where they cleaned up the mountainside and built an air field, ammunition dump, and mess hall and began construction on runways. Crawford recalls meeting General Chester W. Nimitz during his time overseas.
Following the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, Crawford waited six months for a transport boat to take him home. When the transport arrived in March 1946, it made stops at Kwajalein and Wake Island to pick up additional service members waiting to return to the United States. The ship was supposed to take them to California but they changed course to Seattle and hit a typhoon. Being on the ship during the typhoon was the only time Crawford was afraid during his time of service. However, the ship arrived at port safely.
Following his service, Crawford attended school at the Industrial Training Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He was hired by Southeastern Advertising and Sales Systems and was eventually promoted to Southern Regional Manager. He began working in the food industry, from which he eventually retired.
Special Collections and University Archives
Crawford, Leon and Garcia, Madison, "Leon Crawford, Oral History, Part One of Two" (2016-03-08). All Oral Histories. 117.
United States. Navy; United States. Navy. Seabees; World War, 1939-1945
World War II; East Texas War and Memory Project; ETWMP