Veral Harris Crowe: U.S. Marine
By Pat Edwards
In 1946, after spending 3½ horrifying years in a prisoner-of-war camp in Japan, Staff Sergeant Veral Harris Crowe stepped off of a plane in Hawaii and within 2 hours was reunited with his brother, Duane. Pvt.1st Class Duane Crowe had recently enlisted in the U.S. Marines and was stationed in Oahu at the Marine transient station awaiting further assignment. “Duane had no idea that Veral was alive or dead,” according to a newspaper article written by Staff Sgt. Jack C. Smith. “The last letter he had received through Japanese hands had been written in April of last year (1945) and delivered only 2 weeks ago.”
“On the chance that Veral might still be alive, and might some day be among the groups of repatriated allied military prisoners pouring through Hawaii on their way home, Duane left word to be notified with Red Cross workers…” They did, indeed, notify him and within 2 hours, he and the brother he had not seen for 5 years were reunited.
In 1996, Duane recalled, “When Veral and I finally met, my commanding officer said ‘Crowe, take my Jeep for as long as you want. Go wherever you want to, and if you can figure out how to drive it to the mainland, Fly at it!’”
Veral and Duane were the sons of Oral and Verona Crowe who at that time lived in Eugene. In 1853, the Crow(e) family was one of the original families to settle in Lorane, Oregon and they have a long and colorful history in the valley.
Veral Harris Crowe was born on September 26, 1920 in Lorane. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in January, 1939. He received training in San Diego, California as a high speed radio operator and in 1940, was shipped to Shanghai, China where he spent his first 2 years overseas. He had been on Corregidor as a member of the U.S. Marine garrison for only a couple of months when “the fortress was surrendered to overwhelming enemy forces on May 6, 1942.”
Smith, in his newspaper article, continued, “After his capture on Corregidor, Veral was held at Cabanatuan Prison on Luzon for 3 months, then transferred to Yokohama by way of Formosa and Kyushu. He remained at a camp near Yokohama until May, 1945, when he was transferred to the northern tip of Honshu to work in a steel mill. He was there when the war ended.
“Together with other repatriated allied military prisoners, Crowe was sent by ship to Guam after his liberation and from there, flown to Hawaii.”
Veral’s wife, June Crowe, said that Veral was still a patriot when released, but his Marine training was tested severely. Finding himself a prisoner-of-war demanded an extremely difficult and challenging adjustment, not only for just himself, but for all POW’s in similar situations.
“When Veral came home, he found a different place than he had dreamed of while in captivity, but he was eager to begin a new life.” Veral and June were married on January 1, 1946, following his return home. In March, Veral enrolled at the University of Oregon and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 1948.
According to June, “He never forgot his buddies who did not make it, yet what he experienced as a POW, he rarely talked about. Youth’s spirit of competitiveness, lightheartedness, and bravado were deeply affected. War leaves scars that take longer than a lifetime to heal.”
June’s reflections on their marriage provides a thought-provoking finish to Veral’s military history. “It’s strange that I grew up with a Dad who was excused from World War I duty to care for his mother and the farm in Iowa, and a Mother who was a pacifist of Quaker heritage, that I should become the wife of a Marine. Well, life takes strange turns.
“Veral’s death in 1975 at the age of 54 was due to stomach cancer, compounded by grief. I will always be grateful that we had 30 years together. We shared many happy hours camping, hunting, and fishing. His ashes are now a part of the beautiful Pacific on Oregon’s Coast near Yachats, Oregon.”
Veral was posthumously presented with a Bronze Star and Commendations from both Presidents Truman and Ford.
Printed in Volume 3 Issue 4, Groundwaters Magazine, July 2007