In Memoriam

Distinguished Graduate CAPT John W. Crawford, Jr. ’42, USN (Ret.)

Captain John Crawford, Jr. ’42, USN (Ret.), entered the Naval Academy as the world stood on the brink of war. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the Navy expedited the Class’s commissioning and Crawford began his 22-year active-duty career just twelve days later as a line officer aboard YORKTOWN. Following YORKTOWN’s sinking during the Battle of Midway, Crawford served on the escort carrier, SANTEE, which was involved in the invasion of North Africa and successfully hunted German submarines in the mid-Atlantic. He also served on the cruiser BROOKLYN during the 1943-1944 campaigns in Sicily and Italy (Naples, Salerno, Anzio).

Following the end of World War II, Crawford continued his education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a master’s in naval construction and engineering, while also serving as an engineering duty officer at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, PA. In 1949, Crawford joined the staff of Admiral Hyman Rickover '22, USN (Ret.), to oversee the construction of the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, ENTERPRISE, and two other nuclear-powered vessels, the ballistic missile submarine, ROBERT E. LEE, and the attack submarine, SHARK. Actively involved in the Naval Reactors program during the construction of NAUTILUS, Crawford played a key role in the development of the Navy’s nuclear program as well as the delivery of ENTERPRISE, which commissioned in 1961 and served around the world for over 55 years, flying more air strikes than any other carrier in history.

Crawford retired from active duty in 1963 and became the manager of manufacturing for Murray Manufacturing before being called back to the U.S. nuclear power program just two years later. In 1965, Crawford joined the Atomic Energy Commission as assistant director for all non-naval reactor work. He also held senior positions at the Department of Energy, including principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy before officially retiring from the Department of Energy in 1981. In 1987, President George H.W. Bush appointed Crawford to a commission to help ensure that public safety was protected as the government continued to develop and produce nuclear weapons.

Throughout his lifetime, Crawford remained a staunch supporter of the Naval Academy, serving as a Blue & Gold officer and arranging an area lacrosse clinic for Navy coaches and players. In 2001, the Naval Academy honored Crawford with the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award in recognition of his contributions to the nation, Navy and Naval Academy.