The Brain Wellness Fund was thrilled to welcome (now) Major Barry Crawford to speak at our Hope for Our Heroes event on November 12th – Major Crawford is not only a national hero, he is also a former client at the Brain Wellness Center and credits his return to duty to Dr. Mary Lee Esty! You’ll find a summary of the Major’s experiences in Afghanistan below, wait until you hear him speak!
Capt. Barry F. Crawford Jr. was caught in the crossfire. He waved his arms toward the HH-60 Pave Hawk that hovered above as he ignored the bullets pelting the ground at his feet, kicking up dirt and rocks. His headset muted the sound as a round flew just past his ear, though he definitely felt the antenna of one of his radios slap the back of his neck hard after the bullet struck it. The special tactics officer thought he had been shot. He felt for blood, but there was none. He carried on.
An Eerie Absence
The US forces were acting as mentors. The idea was to put an Afghan face on the operation, intended only to be a regional engagement effort. The soldiers wanted to sweep the area and talk to the village elders. The area was known to be sympathetic to the Taliban, but the assault force—including nearly 100 US and Afghan personnel—only expected resistance from some 10 fighters. Unbeknownst to the troops on the ground, though, the mission had been compromised and insurgents had holed up in tunnels and caves in the mountains waiting for them.
It turns out the assault force was ambushed by a highly capable enemy numbering roughly 10 times what they anticipated.
As the troops entered the village, they quickly realized the normal signs of life were eerily absent. The villagers should have been getting up for their first prayer. Women, children, and men should have been moving around.
"There was none of that, so our ‘spidey senses’ picked up and we knew something wasn’t right," Crawford told Air Force Magazine in an interview from Maryland where he is now assigned to the Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron in Baltimore, awaiting a pilot training slot. Crawford hopes to fly A-10s for the Guard.
Throughout the course of the 10-hour firefight, Captain Crawford braved effective enemy fire and consciously placed himself at grave risk on four occasions while controlling over 33 aircraft and more than 40 air strikes on a well-trained and well-prepared enemy force," reads his Air Force Cross citation. "His selfless actions and expert airpower employment neutralized a numerically superior enemy force and enabled friendly elements to exfiltrate the area without massive casualties."