Michael William Crock

Michael William Crock, 85, of West Pittston passed away peacefully Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, at Celtic Healthcare Hospice, Wilkes-Barre.

Born in Wheeling, W.Va., to Louis J. Crock and Madelyn K. Crock, he lived most of his life in Willingboro, N.J., and West Pittston.

"Mickey" was best known as a veteran thoroughbred trainer. It was his passion for 66 years of his life to care for the horses that he owned and trained for others. He traveled and raced at most tracks across the United States. He was loved by many friends on the track. In his last 20 years, his wife, Gail, worked with him. Many on the track and at home can remember his constant calling of "Gail!" when he wanted something done that he couldn't do himself.

What most people don't know about Michael was that he was a hero in the Korean War. On Aug. 6, 1952, a USS Boxer aircraft crashed on the deck and the gasoline tank exploded, causing fire to spread throughout much of the hangar and many aircraft and ammunition burst into flames. The safety of the ship and its entire crew were seriously endangered. On hearing that men were trapped in a below-decks compartment, Michael and a shipmate fought their way through smoke and flames on the hangar deck in an effort to rescue the trapped men. Michael was descended by lifeline by the shipmate into the compartment to rescue 13 men overcome by smoke, carrying them one at a time over his shoulder, to safety. Then he returned to the deck to assist with the fire. For this courageous conduct, he was awarded the Commendation Ribbon by the vice admiral of the U.S. Navy, Commander 7th Fleet.

He was preceded in death by his son, Michael Crock Jr.

Michael is survived by his wife and best friend, Gail (Zavatter), of 48 years. He was extremely loving and proud of his three daughters, Stacey Crock and Nicole Crock, West Pittston; and Sara Ellman and granddaughter, Sage Ellman, Arvada, Colo. He is also survived by his sister, Kathryn Bowman and husband, Edward Bowman, Wheeling; nephews, Edward L. Bowman, Wheeling; Dennis M. Bowman, Longwood, Fla.; and Gregory W. Bowman, Greensburg; cousins, Lorraine Dakovic, Wheeling; and Jackie Burke, Wheeling; and other cousins in Georgia, Florida and California. And by many friends along his path through life.

The family wishes to give a special thank you to Timber Ridge Nursing Home, where Michael resided for a few years, and the Celtic Healthcare Hospice for their care and support during this hard time, and to Yeosock Funeral Home and the Immaculate Conception Church for assistance with all of the arrangements.

The family will receive friends at 11:30 a.m., with a memorial Mass to follow at noon, on Saturday at Immaculate Conception Church, 605 Luzerne Ave., West Pittston, PA 18643.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Michael's name to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Published in Citizens' Voice from Aug. 29 to Aug. 30, 2013