Family and friends gathered Saturday to remember the life of Special Agent MSgt. Thomas A. Crowell, United States Air Force.

Family and friends gathered at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the United Methodist Church Christian Life Center to remember the life of Special Agent MSgt. Thomas A. Crowell, United States Air Force.

Crowell was killed Nov. 1 in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.

“Today we pay respects to, and celebrate the life of, one of the Air Force office of special investigation’s finest: Thomas A Crowell,” said Special Agent Steve Moustakas, AFOSI Detachment 301, Scott AFB, Ill., in his opening remarks.

After the presentation of the colors by the Neosho High School AFJROTC – of which Crowell, a 1989 NHS graduate, was a member — eulogies were given.

The first eulogy was from Crowell’s friend, Zach Miller.

“Tom had a passion for life and a charisma that is rarely found in most people,” Miller said. “Tom had this inner spirit about him that which would shine bright. There was a spark in his smile, it was highly contagious.”

Crowell had friends all over the world, Miller said, and Crowell “was living the life that he wanted to live.”

“Today, we should take with us a sense of empowerment, a sense of pride and a sense of purpose,” Miler said. “Although Tom loved to make other people happy, he still lived his own life. He knew what he wanted, he was not afraid to go after it and make the most out of a single moment.”

About Crowell

Originally from Iowa, in July 1982 Crowell moved with his parents to Neosho.

“Although from Iowa, his roots did grow deep here in Neosho,” Miller said. “Thomas A. Crowell was a man of strong moral fiber and old-fashioned hometown values. If you want to know what the middle initial ‘A’ stood for, maybe it was adventure or maybe it was his attention to detail. Rumor has it that his military record was spotless. Tom had a heart of gold and he understand the importance of family values.”

After graduating from NHS, Crowell joined the U.S. Air Force. He served 12 years in the Commissary Service and in the Information Management career fields at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, Elmendorf AFB in Arkansas and Edwards AFB in California.

He also had special duty assignment in Headquarters Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB in Florida. While there, he successfully completed the Army Infantry School’s airborne course at Fort Benning, Ga.

In April 2002, Crowell cross-trained into the office of special investigations and was assigned to Detachment 518, Spangdahlem AB, Germany. In July 2005, he was reassigned to Scott AFB as superintendent, AFOSI Detachment 301.

According to his memorial service program, “Tom led numerous investigations and operations, it include narcotics, fraud and counterintelligence.”

He was deployed to Saudi Arabia, Korea, Somalia, Qatar and Iraq. Most recently, he was deployed to AFOSI Expeditionary Detachment 2411, Balad AB, Iraq.

As the superintendent, he provided key oversight and management for seven special agents, an information manager and four contact linguists assigned to AFOS’s largest deployed detachment. He was responsible for support to force protection for more than 25,000 personnel, 120 aircraft and all ground logistics for the largest Army logistics hub in Iraq.

Awards and decorations

During his career, he received numerous awards and decorations.

Some included the Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the AF Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster and the AF Achievement Medal. Recently, Crowell is posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the AF Combat Action Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

A traveling man

Over the years, Crowell traveled for both work and fun.

“He wanted to see and experience everything,” Miller said. “He was fascinated by old history, real life, and he enjoyed learning about his surroundings. Tom liked good food, good coffee, and later became a connoisseur of some fine spirited beverages.”

Crowell as a hero

“Tom actually loved his job,” Miller said. “He was a special agent and he was proud of it. It fit him perfectly. He was doing what he wanted to do. He was a quick-whitted, self-displined, self-motivated and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.”

Saying the word “hero,” Miller told the crowd to not think of the “overpaid sports players, actors or rock stars, I am talking about a real life hero. That those other guys could take a few lessons from.

“The way that Tom lived his life makes him a hero any day, any time or in any era,” he said.

Special Agent James Stone, Detachment Commander AFOSI Detachment 2976, Whitman AFB in Missouri, also spoke.

“Tom will always have an honored place in the memory of this country and today, I offer the respects in gratitude of the men and the women of the Air Force in our great nation,” said Stone. “God bless.”

Col. Wilkins F. Urquhart II, commander AFOSI Region 3, Scott AFB of Illinois, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and presented a eulogy.

Crowell was laid to rest on Nov. 13, 2007, in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Crowell leaves behind his wife, Carol, and two sons, Eric, 9, and Ian, 2, of O’Fallon, Ill.; his parents, Peggy and Charles Whipp, Neosho; brothers, Tim Crowell, Wichita Falls, Texas and Rick Hartman, Farragut, Iowa; step-brother, Mike Whipp, Lyons, Colo.; step-sisters, Becky Morrison and Kathy Behrends, College Springs, Iowa.

Memorial fund

To honor Crowell, his parents have established a special memorial to the Neosho ROTC. Contributions may be made in his honor to Community Bank and Trust.

Neosho Daily News