Carl was one of five Crumpton brothers who served in the Second World War. Each of the boys knew it was their duty to serve once war came to America. On December 7, 1941 brother Albert “Abe” Crumpton burst into the kitchen to tell his family the news. Abe knew he had to join, Carl says; he was nearly twenty-one years old and single – the perfect demographic for military service.
Elmer, the third oldest of seven Crumpton boys, was already serving as an officer in the Army and would be sent off to war very soon. Older brothers Earl and Edward would sign up for the Army as well. Carl, known to friends and family as “Bus” (short for “Buster”), was seventeen when the war started and so would have to wait a year. As soon as he was able, however, Bus joined the Marines and became an aviator.
Of the five Crumpton brothers who served, two never came back. Elmer earned himself a long and distinguished record as a combat officer in the First Infantry Division, the “Big Red One.” Elmer landed with the first American troops to see combat against the Germans and Italians in North Africa. He went on to take part in the Allied operations in Sicily a few months later, and then, in June 1944, he was among the first Americans to storm Fortress Europe at Omaha Beach on H-Hour, D-Day. Elmer and the First Division fought bravely all throughout the war in Europe. Tragically, Lieutenant Elmer Crumpton was killed in Germany on April 2, 1945 – only one month before the German surrender.
Brother Earl was also to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. With a wife at home and a baby on the way, Earl Crumpton shipped overseas with the Army Air Corps in November 1943. He had trained as a flight engineer with a B-17 bomber squadron and was stationed with his unit in England. The holidays were tough for the expectant father. On December 21st, 1943 he wrote his wife:
“We had a war orphans’ party here at the club for a bunch of the children whose folks were killed in the blitz; and when I saw the look of faith on those kids’ faces, then I knew the meaning of war at last. I am proud to be doing my bit, no matter how small. That smile of faith and courage those kids had for us Yanks, as they call us, made me feel like bawling. I wanted to take them all in my arms and protect them from all harm. I guess you were right – I am only a softy at heart; but funny as it seems, I’m proud of it.”
- Earl Crumpton, December 21st 1943
Sadly, this was to be his last letter home. Earl was aboard his B-17, nicknamed "Rikki-Tikki-Tawi-II" as his bomb group was getting into formation for a bombing raid into Germany. In rough weather and poor visibility, Earl’s bomber suffered a mid-air collision with another plane. All twenty men in both planes were killed in the crash.
Luckily the three other Crumpton brothers survived the war and made it home. Eldest brother Edward was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and served as a quartermaster both at home and in Europe. He served in the reserves after the war, worked at Leavenworth Federal Prison for many years, and retired from the service as a Lieutenant Colonel. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 88 and was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Leavenworth.
“Abe” Crumpton, the second youngest, joined the Coast Guard shortly after Pearl Harbor and spent the war protecting the homeland from naval attack and guarding the nation’s shipping routes. He came home to Kansas after the war and passed away in Manhattan in 1975 at the age of 54.
Youngest brother Carl “Bus” Crumpton served with great distinction. During the war he flew with the Marine Corps’ “Red Devils” fighter squadron in the Pacific, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “heroism or extraordinary achievement” in aerial flight. When he came home he earned a Master’s in Geology from Kansas State College and taught for many years. He became well-known in his work for the State of Kansas and was awarded the Kansas Governor’s Citation in 1988 for public service. A talented writer as well, Bus wrote short stories and newspaper articles, and was a member of the Kansas State Poetry Society. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 87.
The Crumpton family is representative of many families throughout America during the Second World War, both large and small. They sent their sons and daughters off to serve their country and the greater good. Some died in service, others made it home. Some came home to live quiet lives and others went on to become pillars of their communities. The Crumptons represent a wide range of service both during the war and after. We honor their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all who served their country in the Second World War.
History of the 101 The Forgotten 101 2610 From Riley