Veterans History Project: Michael Crews - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

09/15/08

Veterans History Project: Michael Crews

By Jennifer Martin
jennifer@wlbt.net

Michael Crews came from a family filled with men in the Army. So when his dad demanded he join the service, his choice of the Navy came as a shock.

"I said, 'Dad for 20 years now you've dug foxholes and thrown grenades and slept in tents in 100 degree weather and I don't want to join the army. If I'm going to go to war, I'm going 600 miles off the coast in the air conditioning, eating my food off a tray."

He was assigned to the Navy Seebees.

"For 17 years now, I've dug foxholes; I've thrown grenades; I've slept in tents in 100 degree weather. So I've never been on that ship."

Their primary mission is to support Marines.

"We off load the ships for the marines that carry large brigades' worth of equipment on it, and drive it off for them and set up their tent cities."

He went to the Phillipines and trained for Somolia, but wasn't deployed there. He was active duty from 1991 to 1993 and used the GI Bill to go to college. He quickly joined the Reserves.

"I missed the spirit of the Corp. I missed the brotherhood."

When the attacks on September 11th happened, he knew he would soon be called to service.

"I had just a horrible passion and I knew we were about to go to war. And we had to. We had to. I remember understanding that right away."

In February 2003, he was sent to Guam and the Phillipines in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"If I didn't go, I knew my kids were going to have to go one day and fight that battle."

He served there 6 months then came back to his insurance business. He was called back 4 years later for Iraqi Freedom. He spent most of his time in Iraq building combat operating posts.

"I'll load the equivalent of a Lowe's worth of materials on 75 trucks. We'll drive out in the middle of the desert and we'd drop off all that material. And we'd sit there for 28 days and we'd build a fort from the ground up. You had to wear your body armor. You'd have your M16, and you'd have your hammer in your hand at the same time."

He says the Marines there believe in what they're doing and the nation's support has been inspiring.

"It was so amazing the reception going to Iraq.  The USO was there and they were on both sides of the aisle and they're shaking your hand and they're hugging you. And they're saying 'Good luck, Son. We'll see you when you get back.'  And you go to Iraq for almost a year.  And it's amazing when you fly into Bangor, Maine, and there is that USO troop again and they're thanking you and they're welcoming you and they know your name."

"It sucked, being gone. It sucked only showering every 28 days, but I thank God every day for that ability to be there."

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