John Dudley Crouchley, Jr. was born in Providence, Rhode Island on 4 September 1917. He was the son of John and Katherine Crouchley, Sr. John attended local schools in Providence, RI and entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1935 with the class of 1939. He was a member of the Beta Psi Fraternity and participated in the Kingston Players, the Rhody Review, Wrangles, Intramural sports and was a member of the Varsity Golf Team.
John graduated from RISC in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. John participated in the Army ROTC program while a student at RISC. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on 17 March 1942, and he and Dorothy Barber were married shortly after he enlisted in 1943.
Private John Dudley Crouchley, Jr. graduated from the ten-week U.S. Army Air Force preflight training program, a combination of enlisted basic training and officer candidate school. He was assigned as a cadet in the Aviation Cadet Training Program, U.S. Army Air Force Training Center, Duncan Field, Alabama. Upon completion of flight school, he was awarded his pilot’s wings, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and assigned to the 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group (H), Foggia Airfield in Italy.
The 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group (H), 15th Air Force entered combat in May 1944. The 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group (H) engaged in very long-range bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields and heavy industries.
On 28 June 1944, the B-24 “Miss Yankee Rebel” with 1LT John D. Crouchley as the pilot was one of 27 B-24 Liberators of the 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group (H) took off from the Foggia Airfield, Italy on a bombing raid over Bucharest, Romania. After the bomb run, the Miss Yankee Rebel, plane # 701 had two engines on fire and began a 30-degree drive. In his last conversation before the plane crashed, LT Crouchley asked the bombardier to assist the wounded and other members of the crew in bailing out. LT Crouchley was last seen in the pilot’s seat and remained with the plane to keep it steady while the crew bailed out.
For his actions, First Lieutenant John Dudley Crouchley, Jr., U.S. Army Air Forces, was cited for Gallantry in Action and Bravery and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart Medal and Air Medal (Posthumously).
Citation – Distinguished Flying Cross
The President of the United States of America, …takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to First Lieutenant John Dudley Crouchley Jr, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United States while serving as a B-24 Liberator pilot, 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group (H), 15th Air Force, European Theater World War II. First Lieutenant John Dudley Crouchley, Jr. heroic and fearless leadership in the face of all odds has reflected the highest credit upon himself, United States Army Air Forces and the Armed forces of the United States.
First Lieutenant John Dudley Crouchley, Jr., U.S. Army Air Forces, is a hero in defeating the enemy in the European Theater. He is another son of Rhode Island and America who answered the call to duty and gave his life during World War II. He is a heroic member of the “Greatest Generation.”