PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Willie Allen Crenshaw, an identical twin, was born in Lindsay, Oklahoma October 7, 1929 to Ann Morgan and William Olen Crenshaw. He was one of eight siblings that included two sets of twins. The Crenshaw family moved from Oklahoma to Visalia, California in 1939, where Willie attended grammar school. The family then moved to Kingsburg, California where Willie enrolled in high school, graduating with the Kingsburg High School class of 1949.
After graduation Willie joined the United States Marine Corps, where he had 3 1/2 months of basic training at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, California. PFC Crenshaw then attended Signal and Radio school at Camp Del Mar in California from January 31st through May 9, 1950. While waiting for classes to begin at Del Mar, Willie worked as a waiter and bartender in the Senior Staff N.C.O. Club. He jokingly recalls that job as a high point of his duty while stationed there.
On May 22, 1950 Willie was transferred to Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. While stationed there, Willie and two other enterprising young marines bought a 1928 Packard Limousine to use going back and forth between Lejeune and Washington D.C., charging a small fee for their passengers. The Korean War broke out and put an end to three day weekends and their lucrative entrepreneurial sideline business.
On July 31, 1950 Willie was transferred to the west coast and assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, to await being shipped to Kobe, Japan. At Kobe, he was transferred to an L.S.T. headed to Inchon, Korea on September 14, 1950. During his duties from Inchon to Seoul, Willie became a 2nd Battalion switchboard operator. After being sent to Wonsan, Willie was assigned to E Company as a telephone and radio technician. At Koto-RI they saw action during their campaign from Wonsan to Chosin, and then back to Hungnam. His battalion had a long walk out of the battle zone, but they were determined to fight their way out rather than retreat.
Willie’s next operational duty was in South Central Korea. On January 31, 1951 Willie was promoted to Corporal, and reassigned to Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division as a Forward Observer. His duty there lasted until July 31, 1951. In September, 1951 Willie was transferred with the Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Brigade to Camp Pendleton in California, where he trained new recruits and reserves for their up and coming duty in Korea. Willie received a promotion to the rank of Sergeant on January 7, 1952.
While participating in three operations in Korea, Willie was awarded the Silver Star, the Korean Service Medal with 3 stars, the Presidential Unit Citation with 1 star, a Korean Presidential citation, and the Good Conduct Medal. He finished his military commitment, and was honorably discharged on November 28, 1952.
When he returned to Visalia, California, Willie met and fell in love with Letty Jean Snowden. They were married January 16, 1953, and were blessed with two sons, Bill and Geoff. The Crenshaw’s have six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. After completing a 35 year career with Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, working as a lineman, an engineer, and a splicing foreman, Willie retired.
Willie became acquainted with the Veterans Memorial Museum, “Home of the Legion of Valor” during his volunteer work with the Avenue of Flags. Enthused on his first visit, Willie applied for a volunteer position as a museum docent and has dedicated at least one day a week to the museum since October, 2004. He enjoys the camaraderie and history of the museum that he shares with docents, visitors and students alike.