This is the earliest photo we have of Jesse’s father, George Van Crews, and we treasure it. These three handsome Sailors are the sons of Joseph (Joel) Peter and Minnie Shumaker Crews. The boys had a younger sister, Dorothy, still at home.
All three Crews brothers would serve in combat zones in the Pacific by the end of the war in 1945.
Raymond enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was on duty in Little Creek, Virginia when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He served on landing ship tank (hospital) USS LST(H)-949 when it was part of the Battle of Okinawa, earning multiple medals and battle stars.
George enlisted in the Navy on September 11, 1942 and served on cruiser, USS Minneapolis, and aircraft carrier, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt. While on board Minneapolis he earned two medals, the Asiatic Pacific and the Philippine Liberation, as well as seven battle stars.
Joseph was only 16 years old when he enlisted in the Navy. His age and the fact that he already had two brothers on active duty in combat zones complicated enlistment, but young Joseph was determined. He served on destroyer USS Gillespie and attack transport, USS Tazewell. Gillespie patrolled the waters around New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and came under repeated air attacks but avoided damage. While on Tazewell, Joseph participated in the Battle of Okinawa and earned multiple medals and battle stars.
The safe return of these sailors brought great joy to their family following the war years of fear and anxiety. Like others of the Greatest Generation Raymond, George and Joseph put the adventures and hardships of war behind them. Raymond and George found jobs at nearby Reynolds and Dupont plants and Joseph worked at the McGuire VA Hospital. They married and raised families, always putting duty first. They survived the war, but the brothers still left this world much too soon. Raymond died in 1966 at the age of 47. George passed away in 1987, 63 years old and Joseph died in 1988 at the age of 62.
Here’s to you, Raymond, George and Joseph Crews–three of the 12,209,238 men and women who served in the US Armed Forces during World War II.1
- Visit the website of the National World War II Museum to see this and other statistics of World War II.