By Tamas Mondovics
Mountain City resident John Wayne Jeffries, who has served in the USMC including a tour of combat duty in the Republic of Vietnam, has many friends including some that he calls true American heroes.
“I am fortunate to become friends with many American heroes –some of whom live in Johnson County and the surrounding area, Jeffries said. “I consider them the best kind of friends.”
Some of those that Jeffries holds dear to his heart are: Harold Couch, United States Marine Corps Guadal Canal WWII. Bernie Cowan, 4th Marine Division, Siapan and the Marshall Islands WWII and his wife Beryl, Medical Nurse with the Marines WWII, Robert A. Townsend of Cove Creek a Medic with the 12th Armored Division at the Battle of the Bulge WWII.
“These people are real American heroes and some of the finest protectors God put on earth,” Jeffries said. “I can appreciate what these heroes have contributed as a Vietnam Veteran myself and as veterans, we all think the real heroes are the ones we lost, the ones who died in service to this nation- One Nation Under God.”
Two men that specifically earned a special spot in Jeffries’s life include Randolph H. Brinkley Colonel, USMC, Retired and Sergeant Major Leland Crawford.
Brinkley spent 25 years of service in the United States Marine Corps, most of it as a jet pilot but he was not aware that Jeffries had also served as company commander in Vietnam before going to flight training. Later, Brinkley and Jeffries both served with the Third Marine Division, which was deployed for combat operations along the demilitarized zone separating North and South Vietnam during the same timeframe in 1967 and 1968.
Jeffries was a Corporal in the First Battalion of the Fourth Marine Infantry Regiment while Brinkley a company commander in a sister regiment of the Third Marine Division. The two men later ended up living near each other as neighbors.
Sergeant Major Leland Crawford served as the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
from August 1, 1979 to June 30, 1983. Upon his retirement he was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for Exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility.
Crawford joined the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa in February 1965, and the following month sailed for Vietnam.
In March 1966, he returned to Twentynine Palms, where he was promoted to first sergeant. A little more than a decade later in May 1979, Crawford became the Sergeant Major of the 1st marine Division and remained in that billet until his selection as the ninth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
Crawford’s decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and gold star in lieu of a second award; the Purple Heart Medal; the Combat Action Ribbon; the Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars; the
Meritorious Un it Commendation with two bronze stars; the Good Conduct Medal, 9th award; the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with bronze star; the Vietnamese Honor Medal 2d Class; and 10 campaign medals with numerous stars and devices.