CUNNINGHAM, Kan. (KSNW) — Jack Crick and several of his buddies didn’t want to take the chance.
The year was 1950, and the pals from Preston, Kansas, had just graduated from high school. They knew it was only a matter of time before they would be drafted. In an effort to avoid being drafted into the Army, Crick and four friends walked over to the recruiter’s office at the Post Office and enlisted with the U.S. Navy.
“Well, I didn’t want to be a soldier. So, I wanted to be in the Navy,” says 90-year-old Crick. “As we were kids playing, well, I would always be the Navy guy. We decided that the Army could draft us, but the Navy, we had to join.”
Crick and his buddies completed 16 weeks of basic training, but not before he learned how to swim.
“So, I had to take swimming lessons. I finally was able to backstroke from one end of the pool to the other. Then I was alright,” said Crick.
After basic training was complete, and following a 10-day leave, Crick was sent to diesel engine school.
“Because we used the little landing crafts that we had on our vessel, and of course, not knowing which vessel I would go to, but almost all of those except the big ships like the cruisers and destroyers and stuff didn’t have those little crafts. But the APAs, the AKAs, and the LSTs all had that. So, they call that the Gator Navy,” explained Crick.
He was assigned to the U.S.S. Lenawee, a Naval attack transport ship that delivered Marines to the Western Pacific theater.
“We were out of San Diego, California, where we were home ported. And we made five trips to WESTPAC, meaning to Korea and Japan during that time,” said Crick. “And we were sitting in the harbor in August of 1953 when they signed the peace accord.”
Crick enjoyed his days at sea, but he was aboard the U.S.S. Lenawee for a long time.
“Well, I was on there for three-and-a-half years. Yeah, my whole Navy career. I went aboard that in October of 1952 after I got out of engineman school until I got off in March of 1956,” said Crick.
After four years in the Navy, Crick was ready to settle down and start a career and a family.
“Well, I came home and met this lady in the backroom and started going with her. And she was taking nurses training in Hutchison and actually graduated and passed her state boards in August of that year, and that’s when we got engaged, and then we got married in 1956 in December,” remembered Crick.
He went to work for the post office out of Hutchinson.
“And while I was in the post office up there, there were a lot of those guys who were veterans from World War II and Korea. And so, they said, ‘Come on and join the reserves.’ We got a reserve right here in Hutchinson. So, I joined the reserves then,” said Crick.
Crick built his home in Cunningham in 1960, where he’s lived ever since. He spent 22 years in the reserves, and he worked for the postal service for 34 years before retiring in 1990. Crick says he often thinks back to those long-ago Navy days, all the good friends he made, and the many places he visited in Korea and Japan.
If you want to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.