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I'd really appreciate it if you could squeeze this one in somewhere as without this guy teaching me what I know, many APCs would probably still be broken down. Any one who was anyone in RAEME knew who Crowie was.
Even the Regimental History says so!!.
MILITARY LIFE OF A LEGEND
A TRIBUTE TO CPL KEVIN CROWE
My first appointment in Tech Sqn, I met the Vehicle Mech section Corporal, Kevin Crowe. I was quick to learn that he was more than a section leader but more like a father to all of us, regardless of rank or section, squadron or unit. He was a large man who could take a joke and we also knew him as the Human Sponge as he could drink just about anyone under a table. He was a leader through kindness. He taught me everything I know today about armour and was always there to help.
As far as the army was concerned, Crowie had his own way of doing things, by the book or not and the Army didn't get in his way. Crowie drove a Sandman Panel van which was his pride and joy. I at the time was driving a Sigma and it was no good for towing. One of the other guys in the Regiment who I joined up with, had a Datsun 120Y and my girl friend at the time, had a write off she wanted to get rid of and it was given to one of my mates. I asked Crowie if he could tow it on a tandem trailer for me. He declined but said he had to go away for a weekend course so if I met him at the Depot on the Friday night I could leave my car at the Depot and take his for the weekend. I nearly fell over. I thought NO ONE drove his car except Crowie. I took his car and treated it with kid gloves, did the job and took it back to the Depot Sunday afternoon, with a Slab hidden in the back as I knew he would not accept it. On arriving at the Depot, the SSM, WO Briggs saw us getting out of Crowie's pride and joy. He glared at me with his steely eyes, an ex Centurion Crewman from Vietnam and he growled at me "How the f*** did you manage to get that, he won't even let me anywhere near it." I felt somewhat priveleged considering Crowie played cards with him every Thursday night. I got to do something that the SSM couldn't!!!
One AFX, we were called out from site 4 at Pucka to go and do a repair job on an LRV that had done what we thought was a blower shaft. Things were pretty quiet as for once we had caught up on most of the work so the ASM decided that he would send 4 of us out onto the range to do the repair in the Fitters track. It was about 10am and we drove the Fitters down to Range control and then proceeded to have our asses kicked hard for taking a tracked vehicle down there.
Was this a sign of what was to come. Signed into the range we then proceeded back the way we had come and out the back way via the tank wash. Crowie was crew commander, Peter F.... was driving and the recovery mech, Paul S.... and I were riding in the cargo hatch. Belting across the tank trap (speed trench) and a few hundred metres down an officer from 8/13 VMR stopped us and he needed a woodruff key. He wanted us to do the repair but we were other wise tasked but supplied the part. I ducked inside to our parts shelf and selected the correct size key and handed it to the officer who was squatting next to Crowies cupola. As he got down he picked up his map. We shot through at the normal speed - flat out!! Crowie went to grab his map. It was gone. The officer didn't take his map, it was ours!! It didn't matter as we had to go to the intersection of routes 10 and 25 and await for the cease fire so that we could get to the vehicle to repair it. Hey we were only going to be gone a couple of hours.
Then over the radio we hear that cease fire is at last light!! It was a beautifully warm Pucka day, which is rare and unusual and considering how long we were supposed to be away, we were only wearing our tank suits. We missed lunch at site 4 so we raided our brew box which at the time was in desperate need of re stock. Myself, F.... and S.... got bored rather quickly and began finding bits of inert shrapnel around the place. We'd pick it up and go walking towards Crowie manning his radio and say hey look what I found Crowie. Piss off with that stuff he'd reply. I don't care if you want to blow yourselves up, but don't bring it near me. It upset him and gave us some entertainment to pass the time.
About 5:30pm we were given clearance to move off. We headed down the road until we no longer knew which way we had to go. Crowie got on the blower and asked directions. Keep going down until you reach a fence. Ok. Next direction? Turn left, have you got the means to navigate around the range?........Uh, no! It was now dark. Instructions were to follow the fence until we saw lights and head for them. We did this and yes, we had found Gray town!! Well off the mark. We back tracked to the fence. We were told we'll come and find you. OK we switch off and wait. We are all freezing cold as the chilled Pucka night air comes in. F.... turns to Crowie and says, "rather than all of us freeze, how bout you get out of your tanksuit Crowie so the other 3 of us can get in it? "Get F***ED!!" was Crowies reply. A call then came over the radio, could we hear any vehicles? Yes. What type? A Vehicles. We're in a B vehicle.........Oh shit. Crowie was none too impressed and we were crsing the officer from VMR!! Eventually we were found and followed the Land Rover to the croc. The crew had removed the drive shafts under the directives of an officer. A further task that had to be done. The crew had a brew for us as they knew that when the Fitters turned up, no brew, no work!! I set to and changed the blower shaft while the other lads re fitted the drive shafts. It was back on the road within one hour. The Exercise was actually a Crew Commanders Course and it was the one of those who's vehicle had broken down.
He Had just passed his course as the shoot was his last terminal. He had the map so we would follow him back to site 4. We followed his dust closely and as we went speeding past a gate S...... said, Crowie, isn't that the gate we came in? Crowie said, yeah but he's got the map so we follow him. We did. We came across abuilding and it was all lit up. Some kids came running out the door. We had stopped about 10 feet from this door and porch. S..... asked the kids as we had switched off and dismounted, where are we?... Our backyard. Where's Katherines Park? Down there. What town is this? Heathcote.........ARRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!! Crowie snatched the map out of S..... hands as he had led us out of the range and into some farmers backyard in Heathcote. Boy was this the long way around!!!
We arrived back at site 4 at about 2:30am the NEXT DAY!!! Later that evening everything had wound down and we were going home in the morning so a few drinks were allowed around a camp fire at site 4. Our Fitters crew recieved some awards. We were given a compass, made from a 75mm MRV gun cover, a map of Singleton as they figured we knew Pucka really well by now, a piece of cardboard with asterixes drawn on in texta and a moon to represent the star chart to assist us when all has failed. Lastly we were presented with a Rat pack tin of Vegimite for the next time we miss meals and 2 Panadol for all the headaches we created!! Yet none of these comedy of errors were due to the fitters track crew. If not for Crowie we would probably still be out there following S..... around!!!
When ever you were sleeping anywhere near Crowie, you had to get to sleep before him as he was the best snorer I have ever met bar 1.
Originally Tech Support Sqn did some adventure training around lake Eildon. Later this spread to other members of the Regiment and eventually it developed into a regular family camping experience held on Labour day week end, Queens birthday and 1 week during the Melbourne Show. Crowie became the leader and is known to all the Park Rangers up there as King Crowe. Crowie never missed one. He was also great with kids, he never married. The Army was his family and our families were his family and he was always welcome in everyones door. He was to many kids and adults alike both serving and not, a second father. In the Army if I ever got into trouble, go to Crowie and he'd fix it. Even the officers respected and listened to him. At times you'd swear that Crowie ran the place single handed. He served 32 years. He left the Army was later diagnosed with cancer which later spread through his whole body. In 2002 he died and Eildon will never be the same. I often wonder if when he left the Army, a huge part of him was gone. Did this loss bring on his cancer as it was a very major part of his life and he will always be rememberd to me as a teacher, mentor and father. He will be missed by all who he touched but his legend will live on forever within the Service and out.
The following pictures feature Crowie in his element.
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