Sign up and serve: A retired USMC Lt. Col. reflects on service to country

Four decades have elapsed since 85-year-old Marvin “Buck” Crowdis of Elk City served in one of America’s controversial wars, the decorated United States Marine Corp officer says that he would still enlist today and do it all again.

“Yes, I would definitely serve again,” he said. “The Marines are a different bunch of people and I found a family there. I loved the camaraderie and the reputation of the Marines. And, yes, I would go to Vietnam again.”

Crowdis’s admiration of the Marine Corp and US service members in general took root as a small child witnessing the national effort in World War II.

“I was eight-years-old and riding my scooter in Hawthorne, California. This man came out yelling that we had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. That stuck with me and it was so important to all of us that we win. I watched it and I wanted to become a Marine,” Crowdis recounted.

His mother died while he was still young. Just as he entered adulthood, he found the two places that would be his family for the rest of his life — joining the USMC in 1952 and marrying his wife, Betty, in 1954.

“I enlisted in the officer’s programs at Southwestern and went to two summers of training while I was in school. Afterward, I went to 18 months of flight training,” he said.

The newlyweds were then stationed in North Carolina while Crowdis trained on single engine props. He went from there to jet school on Olathe, Kansas, and onto his first overseas post in Japan from 1958-60.

“The military had realized that Vietnam was escalating and began training some of us on helicopters.”

After several other shuffles around the world, including a stint in Cuba, Crowdis made his first tour in Vietnam from 1964-65. As the military had predicted, the use of helicopters would be groundbreaking in Vietnam, providing a new warhorse for transporting fresh troops and supplies while rescuing the injured and recovering the dead.

During Crowdis’s first tour, he was wounded while his helicopter was shot down from the air. 

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Pictured: Buck Crowdis proudly displays his war medals.

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