Crowe, Joseph L. Jr

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Joseph “Jay” L. Crowe, Captain Jr., USCG (Retired)
June 10, 1940 – February 22, 2003

Capt. Joseph L. Crowe Jr., USCG (Retired)

Joseph “Jay” Crowe died Saturday, 22 February 2003, at his home in Port Angeles with his family at his side. He was born on 10 June 1940 in Greenburg, PA.

After graduation from high school in Weston, MA., in 1958, he received an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT.

Commissioned an Ensign in 1962, he served a tour at sea and then was assigned to naval flight training. Receiving his wings in 1965, he served at Coast Guard Air Stations San Francisco, CA., Barber’s Point, HI; Cape Cod, MA.; and Annette Island and Sitka, AK.

He served during the Vietnam War on an exchange tour with the U.S. Air Force as a Combat Rescue Crew commander with the 37th ARRS in Da Nang AB, RVN. He was a 1981 graduate of the Air War College.

Captain Crowe served as commanding officer at both Port Angeles, WA., and Cape Cod, MA. His final assignment before retirement was as Chief, Operations Division, 11th Coast Guard District, Long Beach, CA.

Jay’s life was characterized by his Coast Guard career, his deep concern for people, his profound love for his family and a sincere and abiding faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Despite the painful effects of the ravaging disease which invaded his body, that faith never wavered. He will be remembered fondly as a friendly, compassionate, sincere, genuine person of the highest ethical standards.

He was a devoted husband and father. His children remember him as a father who always put the interests of his wife and his children before his own.

His concern for other people was displayed by his involvement in “Second Chance” classes at Peninsula College, youth soccer, Boy Scouts, and his church, Dungeness Community Church.

Captain Crowe is survived by Anne, his wife of 38 years, his daughter Julie Shields of Aliso Viejo, CA.; his two sons, Joseph and Sean of Port Angeles; his mother, Sarah Karieva of Windsor, CT.; and his sister, Karen Lee of Suffield, CT.

Captain Joseph L. Crowe, Jr., was a noted Coast Guard aviator responsible for numerous rescues during peacetime and war and for his abilities as a leader, planner, and pilot. From 1971 to 1972, Crowe served as an exchange pilot with the Air Force’s 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron in Vietnam, flying numerous combat search and rescue missions. In June, 1971, he flew a combat rescue mission behind enemy lines to rescue successfully two downed airmen. Another combat rescue mission took place in April, 1972, when Crowe attempted to rescue Lieutenant Colonel Iceal Hambleton, USAF, who was made famous in the book Bat 21 (by William C. Anderson). Due to heavy enemy fire that riddled his HH-53C “Super Jolly,” however, Crowe was forced to abort the rescue and barely made it back to base.

He planned the operation that led to the successful rescue of American and South Vietnamese personnel trapped in Quang Tri during May, 1972. Crowe earned the Frederick L. Feinberg Award of the American Helicopter Society for his daring rescue in 1976 of seven men who were trapped on the bow section of sinking tanker Spartan Lady 145 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard during an intense storm. He later commanded Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod for two tours of duty. Crowe was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses and nine Air Medals during his Coast Guard career.


Awards and Citations

Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Commander Joseph L. Crowe, Jr., United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as Aircraft Commander, HH-53 Helicopter near Quang Tri City, Republic of Vietnam, on 3 April 1972. On that date, Commander Crowe led a flight of two HH- 53 helicopters in an attempt to rescue the survivor of a United States aircraft downed in the area. With total disregard for his own safety, Commander Crowe flew his aircraft into intense enemy fire in an attempt to execute the rescue. Although his aircraft suffered severe battle damage, Commander Crowe demonstrated professional skill of the highest order and saved his crew and a valuable rescue helicopter. The professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty displayed by Commander Crowe reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.


Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded for actions during the Peace Time Awards


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting a Second Gold Star in lieu of a Third Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant Commander Joseph L. Crowe, Jr., United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on the morning of 4 April, 1975 while serving as aircraft commander of Coast Guard HH-3F helicopter engaged in the perilous rescue of eight crewmen from the Liberian tanker SPARTAN LADY which had broken in half in raging seas and hurricane force winds approximately 145 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station, Cape Cod in a blinding snowstorm, Lieutenant Commander Crowe skillfully piloted the helicopter to the stricken vessel, whose bow and stern sections had drifted about two miles apart in the 20 to 30 – foot seas and was directed to evacuate eight stranded crewmen from the bow section. Despite 60-knot winds and limited visibility, Lieutenant Commander Crowe expertly maneuvered the helicopter over the stricken vessel and after repeated attempts, improvised a method of getting the trail line to the bow section which was pitching and rolling violently in the mountainous seas. He then established a hover altitude in excess of 100 feet over the severely inclined deck of the bow and maintained this position for 45 minutes, avoiding the wildly swinging 100-foot mast, until all survivors were hoisted to safety. Upon completion of the arduous hoist operation, Lieutenant Commander Crowe immediately departed the area due to a low fuel state and encountered further deteriorating weather conditions as he approached his destination. With no suitable alternatives, he skillfully and precisely executed an approach to a runway with the lowest authorized descent altitude despite a 50-degree gusty crosswind; safely landed the helicopter; deplaned the survivors to waiting ambulances. Lieutenant Commander Crowe’s innovative actions, expert aeronautical skills, and dauntless valor throughout this perilous mission resulted in saving the lives of eight crewmen. His heroic courage, sound judgment, and unwavering devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

Integrity, Honor, and Respect
Some of the best things cannot be bought, they must be earned

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