Thomas A. Crowell
Master Sergeant, United States Air Force
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1275-07
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two airmen and a Department of the Air Force civilian who were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died November 1, 2007, near Balad Air Base, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. All were assigned as special agents to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Crowell was assigned to Detachment 301, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Wieger was assigned to Detachment 303, Travis Air Force Base, Califfornia. Schuldheiss was assigned to Detachment 204, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
For further information related to this release,
contact the Air Force Office of Special Investigations public affairs at
(240) 857-0989 or (240) 460-1633.
A Rhode Island man serving as a civilian investigator for the Air Force in Iraq has been killed on duty with two colleagues.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations says Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, of Newport died Thursday of wounds from an improvised explosive.
All three men were special agents of the Air Force's investigative arm. They were killed in Balad, Iraq.
Schuldheiss was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
The others killed were Master Sergeant Thomas
Crowell of Neosho, Missouri, and Staff Sergeant David Wieger of North Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania. Crowell was assigned to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Weiger
was assigned to Travis Air Force Base, California.
Thomas Crowell, formerly of Neosho, did not have to be riding in the vehicle that was destroyed by a roadside bomb Thursday near Balad Air Base in Iraq, said his mother, Peggy Whipp, of Neosho.
Crowell, a 36-year-old Master Sergeant, had people serving under him and could have ordered someone else to do it.
He had been in the Air Force for almost 18 years.
He was seven months from retirement and civilian life, where he hoped he might find work in corporate security.
He was closing in on a college degree.
He had a wife and two children back in O’Fallon, Illinois.
But all of that would not stop him from putting his men before himself, Whipp said.
If it had been one of them killed because he did not take their place, he “would not have been the same,” Whipp said.
Crowell, another airman and a civilian working with the Air Force all died of wounds inflicted by a roadside bomb while conducting law-enforcement operations, the Air Force confirmed Friday night.
At the time of his death, Crowell was a special agent with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.
OSI, according to the agency’s Web site, carries out criminal investigations and counterintelligence services for the Air Force.
“He was very, very proud of that,” Whipp said of Crowell’s position.
Whipp described Crowell as a generally quiet man who spoke sparingly but always with authority. He took his work seriously, she said, but his reserve was tempered by a sense of humor.
“When he said something, you listened,” she said. “He was the best at what he did.”
He had not lived in Neosho since he graduated in 1989 from Neosho High School, where he ran track and proved himself a good student, Whipp said.
Crowell was killed at a time when casualties in Iraq had seen a marked decline.
Crowell will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Whipp said.
As of Friday night, she said the family was still wrestling with what happened.
“It doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Killed along with Master Sergeant Thomas Crowell
on Thursday were Staff Sergeant David A. Wieger, 28, of North Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania, and Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, of Newport, Rhode Island.
Crowell was assigned to Detachment 301, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
Wieger was assigned to Detachment 303, Travis AFB, Calif. Schuldheiss was
assigned to Detachment 204, Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
Thomas Crowell, 36, a Neosho High School class of 1989 graduate, husband and father of two children, was killed in Iraq on Thursday.
Crowell was a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, deployed to Balad Air Force Base, Iraq.
Thomas and two other airmen were killed on Thursday while performing combat operations near the air force base in Iraq.
"We were notified around 3 p.m. Thursday," said Peggy Whipp of Neosho, Crowell's mother. "It was an IED."
Peggy was notified by Thomas's wife, Carol, of O'Fallon, Illinois. Thomas and Carol have two children, Eric, 9, and Ian, 2
IED is the abbreviation for an Improvised Explosive Device, usually a makeshift bomb that can be extremely destructive when detonated.
Thomas had been in the U.S. Air Force for the past 18 years. He was stationed on the air force base since August of this year.
"He had been with OSI for the past 15 years," Peggy said. "He was in the ROTC."
Back in 1992, Thomas was overseas in Saudi Arabia.
More information about the tragedy has not been released as of press time today.
Peggy said her son had long wanted to go into the service.
"The military was something that he planned on since he was a junior in high school," Peggy added. "He had to work to get into OSI. He was constantly going to school all over the U.S... it is just what he wanted to do."
Peggy said she would hear from her son on the telephone and actually got to see him back in March.
"The last time that I talked to him was maybe three weeks ago," Peggy said. "And we emailed (each other) last week. He had wanted to get into corporate security. I think the FBI would have been his first choice, but their cutoff line is age 37."
Peggy said her son was to be overseas for a year. She added her son wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In this time of sorrow, Peggy is trying to
notify Thomas's friends, but some of them she has not been able to reach.
Two friends, Zach Miller and Robert Talon, are believed to live in Springfield,
and she wants them to about the loss of her son.
An Air Force Master Sergeant who was killed Thursday in Iraq is remembered for how he put the safety of others first.
Thomas Crowell, formerly of Neosho, died in an attack near Balad Air Base in Iraq. Crowell's mother, Peggy Whipp, 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.
Whipp, who still makes her home in Neosho, said her son always put his men before himself. That's just the way he was, she said.
The mother said Crowell, 36, 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: Staff Sergeant David A. Wieger, 28, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, an Air Force civilian from Newport, Rhode Island.
Crowell and the others were conducting law enforcement operations at the time of the attack, according to the Air Force.
Crowell 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. His family said he also was close to finishing a college degree.
The airman, his wife and two children lived in O'Fallon, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis. He had left Neosho after graduating from high school in 1989.
Whipp described her son as being a man who spoke sparingly but always with authority. She said he was proud of his Air Force duties and took them seriously.
“When he said something, you listened,” the mother said. “He was the best at what he did.”
Crowell will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery,” Whipp said. She and the rest of the family are still trying to grapple with what happened.
“It doesn't make sense,” she said.
Posted: November 7 2007 Updated: 18 November 2007 Updated: 2 January 2008
Photo By Holly: January 2008
Photo Courtesy of Holly, November 2007