MEET OUR VETERANS:
US Army, National Guard
David Crim was born on January 25th, 1948 in Van, Texas. He had two brothers, Reginald and Jackie and one sister, Janet. Reggie was in the National Guard about the same time he joined.
His dad Alford worked in an industrial plant in the refineries in Van, La Poynor, and Hitchcock, Texas. He worked for Pure Oil Company in Van after WW2. Around 1959-1960 they were bought out by Unocal. His mom’s name was Margie Stanford from Ben Wheeler.
“I played in the woods a lot growing up,” said David. “I fished and learned to shoot a shotgun and went bird hunting with my dad some. I finished elementary school in Van and moved to Alvin, Texas for two and a half years. In my ninth-grade year we moved to Athens, Tx. We moved a lot because of transfers from my dad’s job. I attended two years of college at Trinity Valley Junior College ( called Henderson Junior College back then) where I studied drafting and received an Associates degree. I took mechanical drawing in High School and always liked to draw and sketch out things in 3D. I did the house plans for my current house we live in, but most of my drawings were mechanical or electrical. I got out of college in 1968,” said David.
Joined the Military
“I had two friends in college who were going to drop out and join the Air Force. The Vietnam War was going on and we had an active draft lottery. They wanted me to join them. So, we went to Tyler and talked with the local recruiter and took some tests. I did everything but sign on the line but felt I needed to tell my parents first. I sat down with my dad and told him about it. it was only the second time I saw him cry. He did not want me to go thru what he had experienced.”
My dad told me, “I have been there, Vietnam is the jungle and I have been in the jungles of the South Pacific. You can’t imagine how horrible it is. War is horrible. I still remember things about it today, it just won’t go away. I don’t want to see you go thru that.” “It is hard for me to tell that story without tearing up,” said David.
“That was one of the best times he and I had together. At that moment I understood the love of a father for his son.” My dad said, “I just don’t want you to do it. I would prefer you finish two years of college and you go do what you want to do.” So, we made a deal. I would finish college.
In my last semester my professor told me Texas Instruments in Richardson and COMM’s Radio was hiring. At the time they were hiring the top three students in the drafting class of my Junior College. I finished second in the class. I applied and accepted a job at Texas Instruments. The day I joined TI they placed me in Government Contracts Division. It was part of the missiles and ordinance group. There were a lot of military contracts going on in the building I was working in. TI sent the draft board a letter informing them how important I was to the government, asking them for an occupational deferment. I was granted a deferment. About this time the Lottery system for the draft was started. I received number 79 on the lottery,” and David started laughing.
In the Fall of 1970 I went home to Athens for the weekend. I met a girl at the Dairy Queen. Her name was Nancy. We hit it off and two weeks later I asked her to marry me. In one month, we will be married fifty years. We moved to Richardson and I continued my work at TI. About two months later, I had a friend who signed up for the military and my wife and I talked and prayed about it and I went down and signed up for the Army National Guard for six years,” said David.
“I went to boot camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and then went another eight weeks at armor school. I finished in the top ten percent of my class. I was designated as an Armor Crewman in the Army National Guard. I was trained on how to load the main tank gun which was a 105mm.
We were the first Battalion to be trained in the M60A1 tank. The big talk was about the Ballistic computer on it. As a loader on the M60 I dialed in what ammo you were using and the tank would adjust for that weapon load. There were about four different types of ammo it shot. There was a Sabo round, standard round, High Explosive round and one other one. It has been a long time since I was I that tank,” he laughed. “We also had to fire the 50-caliber machine gun on the top and had to take a driver’s test to operate the tank. We got to run over a few trees and at night we got to shoot some infrared rounds. It was cool to drive the tank,” said David. “It had a T bar and it was like driving a bicycle. We would line up all these tanks on the firing range and we practiced loading the gun and loading the ammo rack up and got a lot of practice shooting the main gun and the machine gun. It was loud inside the tank but we had our earplugs in. They had targets about the size of a tank a quarter or half mile down range,” David said laughing at his experiences.
“At one point my platoon Sargant, said “Crim I want you in the tank. When they call a cease fire I want you to run up there and get in that tank. You were an efficient loader.” “I said OK. They hollered CEASE FIRE. I ran up there between the tanks. They were about fifteen feet apart. To get on a tank you have to go to the front and climb up. I had just got to the front and the IDIOT next to us fired the main gun. They didn’t have it on safety and hit the button. It went off and that was one BIG compression. Later, my audiologist asked me, “did you shoot a lot of guns in the military without any hearing protection?” “I told him I did not know about ear protection until I went into the Army. He said, “Your left ear looks like somebody has fired a lot of guns all their life. Then I told him about the tank incident.”
“I was eventually sent to a Platoon Headquarters Company in White Rock Armory in Dallas. When I got back to tank school my wife and I moved back to Athens. I left Texas Instruments and got a job in Tyler and went to work for about nine months as an architect. I continued drilling one week a month and some of those weekends we went to Ft. Hood. It was the only place where we could shoot the mechanized mortars. When the Army reorganized and made combat support companies I was still drilling in Dallas.
In Athens, they put a platoon of surface to air missiles, called “Red Eye” missiles. I was working on missiles at TI on the first laser guided bombs in the late 60s and early 70s.
There was a bridge in in North Vietnam on the Ho Chin Min Trail that we were trying to knock out. They had sent tons and tons of bombs to try and knock that bridge out. The Air Force had these new laser guided bombs and on their first strike they took out the bridge. The pilot came to our department at TI and brought the gun camera video and we got to go in and watch the bombing raid. That was cool,” said a proud David.
“I also worked on the SHRIKE missiles which were Navy anti-radiation missiles. I think the Air Force probably used them too. I have a picture of an A-4 shooting one of these missiles. I worked on a lot of unique weapons systems. Most of them are all de-classified now,” he said.
“When I was in Athens working with the “Red Eye” Missile platoon we got in a trainer and it looked like a giant bazooka. The Sargant came in and showed us how to use it. There was a 2-man team and I was the gunner on the “Red Eye” Missile. The missile was designed to strike aircraft. It was a heat seeking missile. The negative about it was you had to wait until the plane went by to get the heat off the exhaust. We also had to take some classes on aircraft recognition. A couple of times we went over to the airport in Tyler. They would allow us to come out and just track planes. The Army built a training facility at Ft. Hood. It looked like a boxed building outside, but when you went inside it had a hemispherical screen and it would project a laser light and they could select jungle, mountain or desert regions and show flying jets going across. They could be friendly or enemy jets. We had been practicing simulating this for about a year before we got down to Ft. Hood. I had moved up in rank to platoon Sargant. The Texas National Guard was trying to get the Army to get their people out to Ft. Bliss to train at their air defense post. They finally agreed to do that and it was a two-week course. I had to learn about ten more aircraft identification there. You had five seconds to see the side of an unmarked plane from the back, front, top, bottom or side. We had tests in classroom and then head out to the range for live simulations. I was at the very top of my class and we had the final exam the next week in the classroom. I knew I had aced that class. It was confirmed, I had made a perfect score. I had officers from Australia, Israel, and England taking the course. My instructor said congratulations we are going to White Sands and you are going to shoot the missile. The Army was having a “Shoot off” with several companies that had drones vying for contracts. The “Red Eye” missiles were about $15,000 each.
We got to White Sands and they had a bunker they had a computer that recoded all your data on the shoot. I tracked it, acquisitioned it and fired. I shot it down. The Sargant congratulated me and told me the Colonel wanted to see me. I looked down the firing range and here comes the Bird Colonel. When I got up to him I saluted him and he quickly said, “no I want to shake your hand. I had two regular Army units out here this morning and they both missed. You are the only one who has hit the target. How did you do that, they told me you were National Guard.” “I just told him we had a good training facility in Ft. Hood. They sent me an Army commendation and offered to accept me into Air Defense Officer’s School as a 2nd Lieutenant. I said thanks, but no thanks I get out of the Guard in two years,” laughed David. “I met several friends while serving in the military. I was recently in contact with a friend in Dallas and another in Arizona. I remember being in tank school and Johnny Bench who was in the Army Reserve, served me breakfast one morning. I didn’t know who he was until a friend of mine told me he was the catcher of the Cincinnati Reds,” I said oh my gosh.
MOVING TO CANTON
“My wife and the family moved to Canton in 1971. I was still in the Reserves and transferred to the National Guard in Athens. I was still working for Texas Instruments and we finally moved from Canton to Tyler in 1978. We wanted to move back to East Texas where our family and relatives were. I put my name in an employment agency in Tyler and just so happens a guy that worked with me at TI was the drafting supervisor at this oil field equipment company. HR gave him my resume and he said hire him. He told them, I know him, I know what he can do. I worked there for about fourteen years until 1992 when they closed the plant. My wife was a certified paralegal and worked in Tyler. There was company in Kilgore called Vertex Communications and I sent them my resume. They built satellite earth stations and were one of the top companies in the world. I interviewed for the “FEED” department. That is the center part of the Dish system that transmits the RF. Come to find out I knew all about this particular part since I had worked on them at TI. Within four months I was the supervisor over the group. We did a lot of jobs for the military and NASA. Some of it was secret technology. We did jobs all over the world. In the late 90’s the military starting getting computerized in satellite communications.
They were mobile unit trailers that had 2.4-meter deplorable dishes. We did over 2,000 combat trailers for the Marines and the Army. We did the dishes and the feeds for Dish Network and Direct TV. We worked with the Germans, French and all of NATO. We eventually made the portable packs and small compact cases for portable uplinks out of Humvees. I spent 23 years with Vertex. I became the Engineer Manager for the FEED and Standards Products Group. One of the unique products I worked on was a hub switching unit where customers would like to crawl up to the hub of the antenna and trip a switch and some customers that wanted it automated.
We had this box built where you could mount it in the hub and the company named it the “CRIM BOX.” That was my legacy with that company. I retired in 2014.
“In 1987 my wife and I got involved with Southern Gospel music. My wife, Nancy, had a background in singing. Her daddy was a bible preacher and her whole family sang. She always sang harmony and loved to sing in the choir. She can also play the piano and the organ. We now travel and we sing to tracks and we have a full sound system I operate.
They call me the manager. My wife says that is someone who does things we don’t want to do. I also make the contacts and design the promotional packets. It has been a ministry because God has blessed it all these years. We have performed at over a thousand concerts.
My wife Nancy Crimm sings in our Trio Harmony band with Melinda McFarlin and the newest girl is Cheryl Watkins. The name of the band is “Tender Mercies.” We have gone as far west to Weatherford, Texas, to Houston and to the far east to North Carolina and up to Dequeen, Arkansas and into Louisiana.
We perform about 45 minutes to an hour which includes about fifteen songs. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket but I can hear it,” he laughs. “I did play the trombone at Van in the band in high school but don’t play any instrument today. I stick to driving our trailer and running the sound board.”
On his bucket list David said he wants to go to Yellowstone National Park. He has seen pictures of it and would really like to go there one day. He would also like to go to the Grand Canyon. I have been blessed and happy with my life.
David Crim, thank you for your service to our country while serving in the United States Army and Reserve.
NOTE: Meet other Veterans from Van Zandt County by going to the top of www.vzcm webpage and click on MEET OUR VETERANS and click one of the (5) branches of services and the veterans last name first and click to read.
“Every Veteran has a story to tell.” Phil Smith
GOD BLESS OUR VETERANS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA
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