R. Wilson Crutchley a lifelong resident of Annapolis, died March 4 at Anne Arundel Medical Center of Pneumonia. He graduated from Annapolis Senior High School. Mr. Crutchley was a firefighter at the United States Naval Academy from 1940-1972. He served in the US Navy from 1942-1945 as a Seaman 2/c. Serving on the carrier U.S.S. Sangamon, he was involved in steaming by Pearl Harbor, toward the next amphibious operation, the assault on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. At 16:51 on 25 January, during routine flight operations, a returning fighter plane failed to hook a wire on landing, breaking through the barriers, and crashing into parked planes on the forward flight deck. The belly tank was torn loose and skidding forward, spewing flaming fuel. Fire spread among the planes, along the flight deck and over the bridge, making ship control extremely difficult. The former oiler was turned out of the wind, so that the fire could be fought. By 16:59, it was under control. Seven of the crew died in those eight minutes. Seven others were seriously injured, and of the 15 who jumped over the side to escape the flames, 13 were picked up, two were missing. Mr. Crutchley was a firefighter on the flight deck of the carrier. He built his own home, and was an avid Navy football fan. He was also a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Annapolis. Married to Bernadine Pilarski on November 24, 1947, she preceded him in death on March 20, 2008. He was also predeceased by his brothers, Monroe Crutchley, Vincent L. Crutchley, and Douglas N. Crutchley. He is survived by his sons, Gerard W. Crutchley of Centreville, Stephen J. Crutchley of Stevensville, Thomas F. Crutchley of Annapolis, and Paul B. Crutchley of Trappe; his brother, Ridgely W. Crutchley of Annapolis; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Relatives and friends may call from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 8, at the Hardesty Funeral Home, P.A.,12 Ridgely Ave., Annapolis. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 109 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis. Interment St. Mary's Cemetery, Annapolis. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the
, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20004 Online condolences may be placed at www.hardestyfuneralhome.com
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Published in The Capital on March 6, 2013