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Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas A. Crowell

Died November 1, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

36, of Neosho, Mo.; Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 301, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; died Nov. 1 near Balad Air Base, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Staff Sgt. David A. Wieger.

Airman formerly from Neosho killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

NEOSHO, Mo. — An Air Force master sergeant who was killed Nov. 1 in Iraq is remembered for how he put the safety of others first.

Thomas Crowell, formerly of Neosho, died in an attack near Balad Air Base in Iraq. Crowell’s mother, Peggy Whipp, said her son did not have to be riding in the vehicle that was destroyed by a roadside bomb. She said Crowell had others serving under him and could have ordered one of them to do it.

Whipp, who still makes her home in Neosho, said her son always put his men before himself. That’s just the way he was, she said.

The mother said Crowell, 36, was “very, very proud” of his position as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which handles criminal investigations and counterintelligence services.

Two others were killed in the attack with Crowell: Staff Sgt. David A. Wieger, 28, of North Huntingdon, Pa., and Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, an Air Force civilian from Newport, R.I.

Crowell and the others were conducting law enforcement operations at the time of the attack, according to the Air Force.

Crowell had been in the Air Force for almost 18 years. He was hoping to retire in seven months and possibly get a corporate security job. His family said he also was close to finishing a college degree.

The airman, his wife and two children lived in O’Fallon, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis. He had left Neosho after graduating from high school in 1989.

Whipp described her son as being a man who spoke sparingly but always with authority. She said he was proud of his Air Force duties and took them seriously.

“When he said something, you listened,” the mother said. “He was the best at what he did.”

Crowell will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Whipp said. She and the rest of the family are still trying to grapple with what happened.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

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