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Master Sergeant Thomas Crowell

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An Air Force master sergeant from O'Fallon who was killed Thursday in Iraq is remembered for how he put the safety of others first.

Thomas Crowell, 36, was killed near Balad Air Base in Iraq. Crowell's mother, Peggy Whipp, of Neosho, Mo., said her son did not have to be riding in the vehicle that was destroyed by a roadside bomb. She said Crowell had others serving under him and could have ordered one of them to do it.

He joined the Air Force after graduating from Neosho High in 1989. The airman, his wife and two children lived in O'Fallon.

Crowell's mother said he was "very, very proud" of his position as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which handles criminal investigations and counterintelligence services.

Two others were killed in the attack with Crowell.

Crowell and the others were conducting law enforcement operations at the time of the attack, the Air Force said.

He had been in the Air Force for almost 18 years.

He was hoping to retire in seven months and possibly get a corporate security job.

Crowell will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Published in Belleville News-Democrat from Nov. 4 to Nov. 9, 2007
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