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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

LT Charles Russell "Russ" Crawford USN, (Ret)

A tribute by his son Michael David Crawford.

The Day Hilarity Ensued

My father was an officer in the US Navy. During his service at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a huge arms depot on the north-east San Francisco Bay, his regular job was testing the guidance electronics of Talos and Terrier anti-aircraft missiles.

But occasionally he was assigned to accompany the delivery of weapons to ships stationed at other ports around the Bay Area. One day he rode in a truck on its way to a delivery at Hunter's Point in San Francisco.

He was under strict orders to avoid attracting attention because the truck carried an atomic bomb. Imagine his dismay when the truck threw a tread on the Oakland Bay Bridge, one of the busiest highways in the entire United States.

Given his orders not to attract attention, imagine his further dismay when the platoon of Marines following close behind in a troop truck quickly jumped out and formed a cordon around Dad's truck, all of them armed with fully-loaded M-16 machine guns.

Their concern was warranted I supposed because there was the possibility that the flat tire was not an accident. But they changed the tire and delivered the bomb to Hunter's Point without further incident.

Dad was an electrical engineer. He enlisted in the Navy as a seaman, but was enrolled in a Navy program that sent enlisted men to college when they were observed to have leadership potential. He received his EE degree from the University of Idaho in the early 1960's, then received his commission as a Lieutenant after attending officer candidate school.

He specialized in antiaircraft missile avionics and served as a missile fire control officer on several ships, including the USS Providence off the coast of Vietnam, where one of his missiles shot down at least one North Vietnamese fighter jet.

He spent most of his time at Concord working in a small, specially secured facility where antiaircraft missiles were assembled before being deployed aboard ships.

Of all the unlikely events, they held an Open House one day. As we approached the gate, I pointed out the ominous Authorized Personell Only sign, and Dad replied "I authorize you". I think I was nine or ten.

What I remember most about the missile facilty was the odd sensation of sticking my head in a small anechoic chamber that was used for testing mechanical components. I was also fascinated by all the Nixie tubes on the banks of rackmounted electronics there. They looked like something out of a science fiction movie.

My father left the Navy in the mid-70's and retuned to the U. of Idaho for graduate study. After receiving his Master's in Electrical Engineering, he returned to work for the Navy, now as a civilian.

He spent the rest of his career at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where most of his work consisted of writing test plans for the electrical equipment aboard the submarines that were serviced there.

His last position before he retired was servicing the reactor control systems aboard nuclear submarines.

My father, Charles Russell Crawford, Lieutenant USN, passed away on Mother's Day of 2003. He is buried in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland Oregon.

His funeral included a color guard of a Naval officer and enlisted man wearing dress white uniforms. They folded the flag with which his coffin was draped and presented it to my mother, and, on behalf of the President of the United States, thanked her for my father's service to his country.

My mother later gave the flag to me.

My father, being an engineer, encouraged my early interest in science and engineering. It is largely because of him that I have gone as far as I have in my career.

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