Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, has filed legislation to honor one of Oklahoma’s sons for his bravery and sacrifice during World World II. Senate Bill 1428 will designate the Interstate 240 bridge over Western Avenue in Oklahoma City as the “Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant John R. Crews Memorial Bridge”.
On April 8, 1945, Staff Sergeant John Crews, a squad leader with the 253rd Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division, single-handedly captured a German automatic-weapons position while severely wounded. His platoon leader was wounded and their company was under heavy fire. Sergeant Crews rushed the German stronghold with two men, one of which was killed and the other badly wounded. Sergeant Crews killed two men of the machine-gun crew point-blank and retrieved another German soldier’s weapon before securing the stronghold. Following his heroic actions, seven German soldiers surrendered, and the rest fled allowing his company to move into the nearby village of Lobenbacherhof.
President Harry S. Truman bestowed the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant Crews on June 25, 1948 for his actions during the Battle of Buchhof and Stein am Kocher.
“John Crews was a true American hero who risked his life for his country and to protect his unit and thousands of innocent people from tyranny,” Brooks said. “It is an immense privilege to carry this legislation naming this bridge after Oklahoma’s brave son, Army Sergeant John Crews. May he rest in peace and his sacrifice and determination on the battlefield never be forgotten.”
A native of Golden, Oklahoma, Crews joined the Army in December 1942 serving as a military policeman before being assigned to the 63rd Division in Europe in December 1944. During his service, he also received the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars and was later awarded the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He remained very active in the Medal of Honor Society and the 63rd Division as well as an honorary member of the 45th Division. In 1999, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.
After the war, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma City University and became a supervisor at an Oklahoma City meat-products company. He married Joan Adams and had four children Jon, Mark, Phyllis and Diana. His wife of 51 years passed away in 1996. Later, he married Sue Tuma. Crews passed away on September 25, 1999 at the age of 76.
Staff Sergeant Crews' official Medal of Honor citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant John R. Crews, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 8 April 1945 near Lobenbacherhof, Germany. As his company was advancing toward the village under heavy fire, an enemy machinegun and automatic rifle with rifle support opened upon it from a hill on the right flank. Seeing that his platoon leader had been wounded by their fire, S/Sgt. Crews, acting on his own initiative, rushed the strongpoint with 2 men of his platoon. Despite the fact that 1 of these men was killed and the other was badly wounded, he continued his advance up the hill in the face of terrific enemy fire. Storming the well-dug-in position single-handedly, he killed 2 of the crew of the machinegun at pointblank range with his M 1 rifle and wrested the gun from the hands of the German whom he had already wounded. He then with his rifle charged the strongly emplaced automatic rifle. Although badly wounded in the thigh by crossfire from the remaining enemy, he kept on and silenced the entire position with his accurate and deadly rifle fire. His actions so unnerved the remaining enemy soldiers that 7 of them surrendered and the others fled. His heroism caused the enemy to concentrate on him and permitted the company to move forward into the village.