Gold Star son reflects on father’s legacy ahead of Vietnam ceremony

James Crawford is the youngest son of Gunnery Sergeant Richard Crawford.
March 29 is Vietnam War Veterans Day.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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MARIETTA, Ohio- (WTAP) - March 29 is Vietnam War Veterans Day. It was created in 2017, to give Americans the opportunity to say ‘Welcome Home’ to veterans who did not receive the reception they deserved when they returned to the U.S.

58,220 young Americans made the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War, according to National Archives.

One of whom, was Gunnery Sergeant Richard Crawford. Crawford was assigned as Company Gunnery Sergeant to Company A, 1st Battalion 7th Marines, 1st Marines Division. It was here he was killed by small arms fire during an operation as he took over the duties of Platoon Commander for two platoons.

His son James Crawford, who served over 20 years in the Marine Corps, talked about the significance of the upcoming Welcome Home Ceremony on the campus of Marietta College.

“Even to this day, if I have an issue, I know I can go talk to somebody or they can talk to me. We might talk for an hour, thirty minutes, or five or six hours. But that’s what its all about. And hopefully tomorrow when we have that dinner, a lot of those veterans that have that feeling, let that go away. Guys, hey, welcome home. Sorry we weren’t around when this happened. We are going to make up for it and say thank you again.”

James Crawford was three years old when his father passed. He shared some of what he remembers from that time.

“I remember having weapons and mock-ups around the house. I remember one day when they came and had to take it all away. I didn’t understand but it was after my dad got killed and they wanted to remove everything so it wouldn’t be a burden to my mother. I remember going to the ceremony at the Marine Corps reserve center in San Antonio where they presented the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and a bunch of other stuff to him. I barely remember that but as we grew up, we always seemed to run into someone who knew my Dad.”

James Crawford is a gold star son, which he says changed his life forever.

“It is very personal to me; you can see here on my collar a gold star. At first it was Gold Star Mother and then Gold Star Family. Unfortunately, it is one of them that you don’t want to join because it means someone in your immediate family got killed in combat. My father, Gunnery Sergeant Richard Crawford was killed in combat just prior to his 20 years of service in the Marine Corps. He set the standard for my two older brothers and I for what we need to do for this country.”

All three of Gunnery Sergeant Richard Crawford’s sons enlisted in the Marine Corps with all three serving over 20 years each.

Jim Crawford is hopeful that events like the Welcome Home Ceremony will continue to bring veterans and civilians together.

The Welcome Home Ceremony is open to all. Food and live music will be provided March 29th from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Dyson Baudo Center on the campus of Marietta College.