Bridget Ann Crawford Martinek sits with her father Daniel Crawford
June 17, 2012 - I write of my dear Dad, Daniel C. Crawford, and
his loyalty to the U.S. Navy Seabees in the Vietnam War (1967-1969).
He served in the Deckhouse Operations off the coast Vietnam landing
the South Vietnamese Army. He served with the U.S. Navy Seabees
(MCB5) on two additional tours to Dong Ha and Danang. He served also
on an island in Diego Garcia building the basic infrastructures for
a permanent Navy base.
My father was born in Cleveland, Ohio.
His family had hit very hard times during his entire youth. My
grandmother, Elaine M. Chambers, always instilled in my father that
there is a duty for each citizen of this country and that duty is to
be willing to fight for the United States if called upon.
My father, his twin (William G. Crawford) and their younger
brother (John T. Crawford Jr.) knew that there may come a time when
military service could be required. There was a draft in
the United States at the time. My father (Navy) and his twin William
(Marine Corps) decided to enlist in 1966. The worry of their number
being drawn in the draft was no concern to them. Their younger
brother John (Marine Corps) followed in 1971. His number was never
drawn in the lottery. My father and his twin served in Vietnam and
both were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and several more awards.
My father returned home from Vietnam torn over the
hundreds of orphans he had seen while serving in the
different towns and villages of the Republic of Vietnam. He
immediately began working with the Sacred Heart Orphanage
and Sister Angela, inquiring Father John Tabor, (a former
Seabee who stayed in Vietnam to be ordained a catholic
priest) as to how he could adopt a Vietnamese child. It took
my Dad several years working with Sister Angela and an
orphanage sponsored organization (Friends of Families and
Children of Vietnam) before he selected a child and the work
to adopt began.
My Dad worked hard in this adoption
project and the process was very stressful. Due to the slow
movement of the process my Dad took a leave of absence in
1971 from his position with the City of Cleveland as a
Police Officer. He went to the U.S. Navy and asked if he
could be assigned to a Seabee Team in Vietnam if he
reenlisted. The recruiter was happy to accommodate him with
an enlistment, however he never made it back to Vietnam. He
was assigned to an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean
(Diego Garcia). This certainly created a tedious and long
scenario in his accomplishment of adopting a Vietnamese
My Dad gave up two years of his life for the
reenlistment. This was time when most veterans coming home
from the War were dealing with themselves and their post
traumatic disorder. The sacrifice, which was unselfish but
no doubt determined, in adopting an orphan from Vietnam was
indeed in my father's psyche and then had become a duty in
adopting a Vietnamese orphan.
The time came. On May
12, 1973 I was able to be delivered into my Dad's arms from
a man named Father Robert Crawford (no relation) as he was
my escort from To Am Nursery, Vietnam via Paris and then
John F. Kennedy airport.
I am forty years old and
have had a most fruitful and fulfilling life. I am happily
married to a man who does show and present to me the
qualities my father shared with me. My father retired as a
police officer in Cleveland and a federal agent for
twenty-years. He has always been there for me. I know that
my brother and sister (also adopted by my Dad) continue to
have three characteristics which my father instilled in us.
Just ask my Dad what is the secret to life. One might answer
“a good cup of coffee” or “a million dollars.” Not my Dad.
Here is his answer: the secret to life is “to have
COMPASSION, EMPATHY and a SENSE OF HUMOUR toward your fellow
My father does suffer from Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. However he continues to assist veterans
from all the campaigns, wars and services in obtaining their
To end this essay I must say that
the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs both the Hospital
side and the Benefits side has always supported my Dad in
his life changing health and mental problems. The U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs has always been there for my
Dad. I have gone to the VA hospitals in Cleveland and
Brecksville, Ohio; Panama City and Gainesville, Florida;
Nashville, Tennessee; and Bowling Green, Kentucky. My
father's treatment has always been from the United States
Department of Veterans Affairs. There has never been a time
when every VA hospital and the staff of the VA Hospitals did
not display my Dad's lifelong belief of characteristics
toward him and our family: COMPASSION, EMPATHY and SENSE OF
By Bridget Ann Martinek
Department of Veterans Affairs - Vantage Point
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