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  1. #1
    us
    Oct 2008
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
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    A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat



    By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

    William 'Bill' Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you
    could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr.
    Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our
    squadron janitor.

    While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic
    events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending
    leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and
    buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up
    the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

    Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering
    little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, "G' morning!" in his
    direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

    Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the
    squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.
    Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.
    After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.

    Maybe it was his physical appearance that made him disappear into the
    background. Bill didn't move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he
    even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray
    hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.
    And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny. Face it, Bill was an
    old man working in a young person's world. What did he have to offer us on a
    personal level?

    Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford's personality that rendered him almost
    invisible to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so.
    He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn't
    happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving
    about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he
    noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell.

    So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just
    another fixture around the squadron. The Academy, one of our nation's
    premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr.
    Crawford...well, he was just a janitor.

    That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book
    about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I
    stumbled across an incredible story. On Sept. 13, 1943, a Private William
    Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been
    involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy.

    The words on the page leapt out at me: "in the face of intense and
    overwhelming hostile fire ... with no regard for personal safety ... on his
    own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy
    positions." It continued, "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk
    of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United
    States ..."

    "Holy cow," I said to my roommate, "you're not going to believe this, but
    I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner." We all knew Mr. Crawford
    was a WWII Army vet, but that didn't keep my friend from looking at me as if
    I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn't wait to ask Bill
    about the story on Monday.

    We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in
    question from the book, anticipation and doubt on our faces. He starred at
    it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, "Yep,
    that's me." Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at
    the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once we both stuttered,
    "Why didn't you ever tell us about it?" He slowly replied after some
    thought, "That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago." I
    guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to
    class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.

    However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same
    around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had
    a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal! Cadets who
    had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile
    and a respectful, "Good morning, Mr. Crawford."

    Those who had before left a mess for the "janitor" to clean up started
    taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Most cadets routinely
    stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to
    our formal squadron functions. He'd show up dressed in a conservative dark
    suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his
    heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. Almost overnight, Bill
    went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.

    Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the
    difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more
    purpose, his shoulders didn't seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings
    with a direct gaze and a stronger 'good morning' in return, and he flashed
    his crooked smile more often.

    The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more.
    Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn't
    happen often at the Academy. While no one ever formally acknowledged the
    change, I think we became Bill's cadets and his squadron.

    As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The
    last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977. As I walked out of
    the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, "Good
    luck, young man."

    With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.
    Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his
    native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners
    living in a small town.

    A wise person once said, "It's not life that's important, but those you
    meet along the way that make the difference." Bill was one who made a
    difference for me. While I haven't seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years,
    he'd probably be surprised to know I think of him often. Bill Crawford, our
    janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are
    ten I'd like to share with you.

    Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your
    relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time,
    we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be
    cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just an Airman."
    Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a
    lieutenant."

    Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the 'janitor' label on Mr.
    Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around
    us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor
    winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and
    was a part of our team.

    Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of
    rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond
    a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory
    'hellos' to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly
    changed. It made a difference for all of us.

    Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that's
    no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero
    walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that
    walk in your midst?

    Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn't fit anyone's standard
    definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his
    Medal. Don't sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who
    rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it's easy to turn
    to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don't ignore the rest
    of the team. Today's rookie could and should be tomorrow's superstar.

    Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are
    anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your 'hero meter' on
    today's athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are
    what we've come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too
    busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to
    do the same.

    Life Won't Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military
    work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes
    you just have to persevere, even when accolades don't come your way. Perhaps
    you weren't nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you
    thought you should-don't let that stop you. Don't pursue glory; pursue
    excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn't pursue glory; he did his duty and
    then swept floors for a living.

    No Job is Beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner,
    could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think
    about it.

    Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr.
    Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best
    street sweeper you can be." Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped
    make our dormitory area a home.

    Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or
    PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership
    laboratory. Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you
    just take time to stop, look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force
    Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands
    of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of
    the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he
    unknowingly taught. Don't miss your opportunity to learn.

    Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role
    model and one great American hero. Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable
    leadership lessons.

    I found more to this story from http://www.pueblomohfoundation.com/

    William Crawford
    WWII
    1943
    At a young age Bill Crawford learned to defend himself by boxing. As a
    soldier during World War II his fighting skills were put to the ultimate
    test. Crawford's path to the Medal of Honor began in 1943 in Italy. As the
    company scout, Army Private Crawford discovered three hidden German machine
    gun nests. Alone and unable to alert his fellow soldiers of the awaiting
    ambush - Crawford took matters into his own hands. He single handedly
    engaged the enemy - with only his rifle and grenades he destroyed all three
    enemy emplacements. As his company advanced, he volunteered to stay behind
    to aid a wounded friend only to be captured by enemy troops.

    As a POW, Crawford endured nineteen months in a Nazi prison camp. His
    hometown golden gloves experience came to the surface when he was put to the
    test and knocked out a Nazi guard during a fight. Back home his family had
    presumed Crawford was killed in action and his Medal of Honor was presented
    to his father posthumously. In 1945 his family rejoiced in his liberation
    from Germany and he returned to Colorado living a very humble life. After
    his Army retirement Crawford took a job as a custodian at the Air Force
    Academy and took on a special role befriending and mentoring the young
    cadets. One former cadet, now an Air Force Colonel has written "The
    Janitor's Ten Lessons In Leadership" now a mandatory reading for the entire
    Air Force. It wasn't until over forty years after his heroic action that
    Crawford was presented the Medal of Honor in person. He was officially
    presented the medal by President Ronald Reagan at the 1985 Air Force Academy
    graduation ceremony.

    Other research shows MSGT Crawford died in March 2000 at age 81.

    Minstrel
    Golden Rule Enterprises, LLC
    The Bargin Warehouse
    Dennis M. O'Connor, CEO
    http://www.thebarginwarehouse.com

  2. #2
    us
    Aug 2007
    north Florida
    ace 250, 1974 Whites coinmaster 2/d
    196
    4 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    Very interesting story !And very true words, you just never can tell what some old man (or woman) did when they were younger. I met an old man once, very quiet, almost meek...after becoming more aquainted with him, I learned he retired a full bird colonel, after 30 years in the USAF, a fighter pilot in WW2 (p-47 thunderbolts), and a jet fighter pilot in Korea.I found out this history after finding a picture of a man by the same name in one of my "airplane books", and it was him! I started flying with him in the Civil Air Patrol, and learned first hand many war stories that you just wouldn't believe just by looking at this old guy, and he had the log books and pictures to prove it all.
    Sadly, he too passed a couple of years ago.I gave his grandson the copy of the book he was in, and picked up another off of eBay.His grandson is now in the marines, in Afganistan, hopefully safe, and hopefully with as much guts as his ,( to me at least), granddad had .Rest in peace Felix, and thanks for the memories....
    Believe.

  3. #3
    Charter Member
    nz
    Dec 2008
    New Zealand
    X-Terra 705 Excalibur 1000 Garrett Pro Pointer
    350
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    That's a great and heartwarming story Minstrel.

    Thanks for posting.
    And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

  4. #4

    Mar 2006
    58
    1 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    I actually had the honor of knowing Mr. Crawford when I was stationed at the Academy. Like a lot of others had no idea he was a Medal of Honor recipient until the Award ceremony. I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to shake his hand.

    Msgt

  5. #5
    us
    Oct 2008
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Garrett-GTI-2500
    520
    2 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    Quote Originally Posted by MSgtUSAF
    I actually had the honor of knowing Mr. Crawford when I was stationed at the Academy. Like a lot of others had no idea he was a Medal of Honor recipient until the Award ceremony. I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to shake his hand.

    Msgt
    I envy you greatly for having actually met Mr. Crawford.
    You were standing with a "Giant"
    Minstrel
    Golden Rule Enterprises, LLC
    The Bargin Warehouse
    Dennis M. O'Connor, CEO
    http://www.thebarginwarehouse.com

  6. #6
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    549
    29 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    Quote Originally Posted by Minstrel


    By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

    William 'Bill' Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.

    While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.

    Blah, blah, blah.

    Man. I always HATE to be the stick-in-the-mud, BUT. There is something VERY fishy about this whole article.

    I just checked my annual Air Force Academy Register of Graduates.

    There is no James Moschgat listed at all. In fact, there are no other Moschgat's listed either.

    It looks to me like this guy (Moschgat) inserted himself into a fantasy about a genuine hero (Crawford).

    ALSO. The 12th Operations Group Commander is Col. Ronald D. Buckley, NOT Moschgat.

  7. #7

    Mar 2006
    58
    1 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    http://leadership.wharton.upenn.edu/digest/03-02.shtml

    About 3/4 of the way down the page is a photo of the Col, also IDs him as 12 OG CC. This was Mar 2002,
    Edit: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/f...et.asp?id=9637 Col James E. Moschgat, 18 Jul 2000;
    Was replaced by Col Margaret H. Woodward, on 3 Jul 2002


    MSgt

  8. #8
    us
    Apr 2007
    CA-AZ-NV-NM
    Garrett GTI 2500
    549
    29 times

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat

    Msgt is correct! Anyone who has seen an AFA Register of Graduates knows it is divided by class, but at the end includes an alphabetical listing of graduates. For some reason, Mr. Moschgat was left out of the alphabetical listing in the back. Thru my further research, I was able to determine Moschgat did graduate from AFA- Class of 1977.

    Moschgat was the 12th Operations Group Commander from 2000-2002. As of 2008, Mr. Moschgat was the Deputy Commandant of the National Security Space Institute.

    Good job, MSgt!

  9. #9
    us
    Sep 2006
    Montana
    11,697
    105 times
    Banner Finds (1)

    Re: A Janitor's Ten Lessons in Leadership--True story by Col. James Moschgat




 

 

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