Colonel William E. Crouch Jr., USA (Retired) passed away on Thursday, September 19, 2013 in Panama City, FL. Bill was born in Laurel, Delaware on May 28th, 1928. He attended Laurel High School and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps after graduation in 1946. Bill was selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and graduated in 1951. While at West Point, he met the love of his life, Betty Jane (BJ) Macaulay, whom he married after graduating and being commissioned as Second Lieutenant.
Bill served with distinction during his 30 year Army Career. As a Field Artillery Officer, he first served with the 82d Airborne Division, then deployed to the Korean Conflict in November 1952 with the 48th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. After returning home, he attended Artillery courses at Fort Sill, OK, and Fort Bliss, TX where Bill was assigned as an instructor. 1n 1955, Bill and BJ were blessed with their daughter Deborah Ann.
In 1957, after graduating from the Artillery Officers' Advanced Course, then Captain Crouch started the second phase of his Army Career in Army Aviation. Bill attended Mississippi State University where he earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1959. Following graduation, he was assigned to Fort Rucker for flight training and earned his Army aviator wings in 1960. He remained at Fort Rucker, serving three years at the United States Army Aviation Test Board, He was then assigned to and graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS in 1964.
Bill deployed on his first tour in Vietnam as Light Aviation Project Officer, developing aviation combat tactics and techniques. Returning home, he assumed duties as Chief, Aircraft Branch of the Combat Development Command's Aviation Agency. Bill applied for and was selected for the United States Naval Test Pilot School. After graduation Bill was assigned to the United States Army Aviation Test Activity at Edward Air Force Base, CA as an experimental test pilot, Chief, Flight Test Engineering, and later Deputy Commander.
In 1969, he returned to Vietnam as commander of the 9th Aviation Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, and later as Executive Officer, 17th Aviation Group. He returned home to attend the United States Army War College and returned to Vietnam in 1971 to command the 101st Aviation Group, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). When his unit redeployed to the United States in January 1972, Bill served as G-3, 1st Aviation Brigade, and later as Deputy Commander for Operations, 3d Brigade (Separate), 1st Cavalry Division.
As a Colonel, Bill served in the Pentagon as Chief of Airmobility Division (later reorganized as the Aviation Systems Division) in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development, and Acquisition until July 1977. He concluded his military career in 1981 as Commander, U.S. Army Aviation Development Test Activity in Fort Rucker, AL. He continued to work with Army Aviation as a member of industry until his retirement in 1993.
Bill was the recipient of numerous military awards. They included the Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal with a ?gV?h device for Valor and three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with 32 awards, Army Commendation Medal with a ?gV?h device for Valor and an Oak Leaf Cluster, and many foreign awards.
Upon retirement Bill and BJ moved to Panama City Beach, Florida and although a long time boat owner, Bill decided he needed to take a boating safety course to learn more about boating. One thing led to another and he joined the Flotilla 19 of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary in Panama City Beach. Bill started out as an instructor and shortly thereafter was appointed as Flotilla Finance Officer. Other staff assignments included Personnel Services Officer and Communications Services Officer. His leadership positions included service as Flotilla Vice Commander, Flotilla Commander, Division Vice Captain, Division Captain, District Rear Commodore and District Vice Commodore, and in 2007 he was elected Commodore of the Coast Guard?fs Eighth District Coastal Region, with responsibility for all Auxiliary activities from the Arizona / New Mexico state line to St. Marks, FL, and covering all or part of eight southern states. Bill?fs contributions to Boating Safety and the Auxiliary were extensive, and he received numerous awards, including the prestigious Martin S Herz Award for inspirational leadership in early 2013. He continued to be active as an instructor and advisor until his passing.
Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years BJ, daughter Deborah Hesson and son-in-law Colonel James Hesson (USA Ret) (Huntsville, AL)brothers Donald (Seaford, DE), and Francis Crouch (Delmar, DE), sister Jean Span (Burk, VA), and his grandchildren, Captain James Hesson (USAF) (Charleston, SC), Stephen Hesson (Huntsville, AL), and Kirsten Hesson (Huntsville, AL).
A memorial service will be at 2:00 P.M., Saturday September 28, 2013 at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Wounded Warriors Project (4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256) in his name. Colonel Crouch?fs remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors for his service to the nation at a later date.