HENRY LEE Crawford

S-51 Radioman, 1st Class (350 84 87)

Henry Lee Crawford, S-51 radio man, in his Navy uniform.


Henry Lee Crawford was born on August 20, 1901 in Steve, Arkansas. His family later moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 11, 1919, and served on the U.S.S North Carolina (ACR-12)/U.S.S. Charlotte (CA-12) from September 30, 1919 to February 18, 1921. Next, he served on the U.S.S. Nitro (AE-2) from June 30, 1921 to August 19, 1922. Henry then served at the U.S. Naval Radio Stations, 5th Naval District, at Hampton Roads, VA and Cape Lookout, NC until August 25, 1925 when he was transferred to the S-51 a month before the accident. His body was not recovered from the wreckage until November 2, 1925. He left behind his parents and 8 siblings in Ardmore, OK. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Ardmore, OK. Henry is survived by one daughter, Lavinia, and one granddaughter, Tara.


Pay Respects to Sub Victim Drowned at Sea

Legion Sounds Taps for Henry L. Crawford While Body Is Lowered During Drizzling Rain.

In the drizzling rain which fell during the afternoon Friday, the body of Henry L. Crawford, victim of the ocean tragedy in which the submarine S-51 was sunk while he was on duty as radio operator, was buried from the Broadway Baptist church.

The body, which was expected to arrive last evening, did not reach Ardmore until early Friday morning over the southbound Santa Fe.

Rev. R. L. Davidson of the Broadway Baptist church, conducted the services which were followed by burial in Rose Hill. Pallbearers were chosen from members of George R. Anderson post of the American Legion and included Mark Davis, Leo Atkins, Buddy Moorehead, Rudolph Ploense, Ira Armstrong and Dr. G. E. Johnson.

Sound Taps

Taps were sounded at the grave by David Dawson, legionnaire.

Crawford was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Crawford* of Ardmore. He enlisted for submarine service only a short time before the accident in which the S-51 was rammed by the City of Rome, a commercial ship, and sank in 127 feet of water.

His body was not recovered until last Sunday, several weeks following the disaster. A telegram from the navy department reached here Monday announced that the body was being sent home.

It is a coincidence that on the date of Crawford's burial the boat which caused his death sprang a leak and lies beyond breakwater where tugs are rushing to her rescue.

*The newspaper incorrectly listed Henry's parents as Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Crawford. Henry's parents were Isaac Wilson Crawford and Mary Elizabeth Orrell Crawford.

Henry Crawford with four of his buddies at Cape Lookout, NC. All men are in their Navy uniforms with sailor hats.

Henry with his buddies at Cape Lookout, NC, 1925.

scrapbook photos

The photos in this section were scanned from Henry's sister's scrapbook. All captions in quotation marks are the original captions found in the scrapbook.

Full-length photo of Henry Crawford standing by an old Model-T car at Cape Lookout, NC, 1925, in his Navy uniform.

Henry at Cape Lookout, NC, 1925.

Henry with two of his friends striking a pose while goofing off. One friend has a cigarette in his mouth. The other friend has a cigar in his mouth. And Henry has a pipe in his mouth.

"Buddies of the waves."

Henry sitting with his left leg propped up, pants leg rolled up, and adjusting something with his sock.

"A misled holdup."

Henry standing on some type of platform near the railing of a ship with the sea in the background. He is leaning back, arms outstretched as if he is doing a balancing act, and trying not to fall overboard with a silly grin on his face.

"Statue of Tricks."

Henry goofing off, holding onto the ship's side rails by his arms and legs, with his rear end hanging over the side of the ship, sea in the background, and grinning from ear to ear.

"Morning fun."

Henry posing underneath a train with his head on the railroad track just under the train's wheel. A silly smile is still on his face.

"Ending it all... and still smiling!"

other photos

Headstone for Henry Lee Crawford. Dates on inscription are August 20, 1901 to September 25, 1925. Epitaph reads "Died at sea on submarine S-51."

Henry's headstone in Rose Hill Cemetery, Ardmore, OK. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Wooley.)

Young Henry Crawford in Navy uniform when he first enlisted in 1919.
Photo of a young Henry Lee Crawford in Navy uniform standing on a ship's deck with a flag in his raised left hand and pointing right with another flag in his right hand.

Above: Henry Lee Crawford

Left: Young Henry Crawford when he first enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1919. (Photo courtesy of Ken Glasscock.)