Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, speaks with Nancy Crawford, widow of Ollie Crawford, at the dedication of Crawford Hall at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, on Nov. 13, 2019. Photo: Sean M. Worrell/USAF
Photo Caption & Credits

Airman for Life: RPA Building Dedicated to Ollie Crawford

March 1, 2020

The Air Force’s sole center for undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft training, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, was renamed “Crawford Hall” on Nov. 13, 2019, in honor of the late Ollie Crawford, a World War II pilot and Air Force Association charter member who went on to lead the organization as national president and chairman of the board.

Crawford was instrumental in the formation of the Air Force Memorial Foundation and his efforts led to the dedication of the Air Force Memorial in Washington, D.C., in October 2006.

Among other accomplishments, Crawford was also known for encouraging the Air Force to formally recognize the efforts of the Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group in China, in the lead-up to World War II; for helping to get the Commemorative Air Force’s P-40 Warhawk restored; and for becoming the oldest recipient of a U-2 Dragon Lady orientation flight at age 84. Crawford died on July 21, 2019, in Texas. He was 94.

James Clark, director of Air Force warfighting integration capability, who said he led the charge to memorialize Crawford at Randolph, called him “one of the most gracious, giving gentlemen I’ve had the honor to know,” in an interview with Air Force Magazine.

“He always concentrated on the warfighter, on the Airman, …and, you know, he loved aviation, but [he had] a true and abiding passion for our Airmen and taking care of those Airmen, and I saw that firsthand on many, many occasions,” said Clark, who also spoke at the ceremony.

Retired Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg, AFA’s executive vice president, was among the ceremony’s keynote speakers.

Ollie Crawford symbolized passion for the Air Force and service to the nation, he said. “If every Airman could have just a thimbleful of the passion that he had,” it would make for an even more powerful Air Force, joint forces, and nation.

Raaberg said that honoring Crawford in this way also pays homage to AFA.

“Personally and professionally, it’s a dedication to the Air Force Association—and Ollie would want it that way—as well as to his Air Force and to all the allied partners that he flew with and worked so closely with,” Raaberg said.

According to Air Education and Training Command, the 558th Flying Training Squadron, which heads up all undergraduate RPA pilot and sensor operator training for USAF and the Marine Corps—including three courses taught in the newly dedicated building—produces 440 pilots and 440 operators each year.

“We at the 558th are honored that our one-of-a-kind mission can be represented by a one-of-a-kind hero like Col. Ollie Crawford,” wrote 558th FTS Commander Lt. Col. Eric Bissonette in an email.

Clark said the Airmen who pass through Crawford Hall have its namesake to thank for it.

“They’re there because of the legacy of great Airmen like Ollie Crawford that made our Air Force possible today, and they are part of a very proud legacy that we hope they will continue,” he said. “I know that Ollie would be proud of those young RPA operatives coming out of Crawford Hall.”