Monday, May 16, 2016

Bill honors Neosho High School graduate killed in Iraq

(From Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Seneca)

On Friday, May 13, the 98th General Assembly of the State of Missouri came to an end. After more than four months of hard work and lengthy discussions and debate, the Missouri House concluded the 2016 legislative session with a long list of accomplishments, many of which will be discussed in upcoming weeks. However, today I want to share information about House Bill 2633, a highway naming bill.

This session I was honored to have the privilege of filing legislation that would name a portion of Interstate 49 from its intersection with State Highway 86 and continuing north to Iris Road in Newton County to be designated as the “Special Agent Thomas Crowell Memorial Highway.” The Department of Transportation shall erect and maintain appropriate signs designating the highway, with the cost for designation to be paid for with private donations. House Bill 2633, the original bill, was attached as an amendment to two highway naming bills—Senate Bill 625 and Senate Bill 852. Both of these bills are on the governor’s desk, and as with most highway naming bills, it is anticipated that they will be signed into law. Today there are 425 highway designations in Missouri.

Special Agent Thomas Alfred Crowell was born December 3, 1970 in Clarinda, Iowa. In July of 1982, he moved with his parents to Neosho, MO. After graduating from Neosho High School in June of 1989, Crowell joined the US Air Force. His first twelve years in the Air Force were in Commissary Service and in the Information Management field at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. On November 1, 2007, Special Agent Thomas “Ozzy” Crowell was killed in action in Iraq.

Each year during session, there are a number of highway designations and bridges named to honor individuals who have served their country or their community in exemplary fashion. Usually the names are of service members or law enforcement officers who have been killed in their respective lines of duty. Special Agent Crowell was one such individual.

Thomas Crowell began his service to his country by being a cadet and an active part of the Neosho High School ROTC program. He spoke well of his experiences while at NHS and the leadership and knowledge that was provided him. Special Agent Crowell loved his country and was eager to make a positive difference in the world. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Afterward he served in Somalia. He completed the US Army Infantry School’s Airborne Course at Fort Benning, GA and was assigned to Headquarters Special Operations Command, MacDill, AFB, FL. Today he rests in Arlington national Cemetery, having left behind a wife and two sons.

In September, before this Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and numerous other prestigious awards winner was killed, he wrote home that he had detected a positive movement in the region. He was optimistic about the situation there.

It always saddens us to hear of any person giving the ultimate sacrifice, but it is especially heart breaking to know that the one making the sacrifice is a young person of such high caliber as Special Agent Thomas A. Crowell. Obviously, having a designated highway named after SA Crowell won’t bring him back, but perhaps it will help drivers who travel that specific highway to pause and think about the tremendous price that was paid by the designee.

We appreciate Special Agent Thomas “Ozzy” Crowell and his patriotism and his love for our country, and we hope that his bravery and sacrifice will help inspire others to do their best in whatever avenue they find themselves. We also hope that once the memorial signs are installed that all who see the markers will remember SA Crowell and why he did what he did.

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