Greenville native retires as Navy vice-admiral

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

One of Butler County's own recently bid farewell to a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy.

Vice Admiral Lewis Crenshaw Jr., Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for the Integration of Capabilities and Resources, was honored during a retirement ceremony held November 3, 2006 at the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The 1974 Annapolis graduate earned his Naval Flight Officer wings in Pensacola in December 1975 and completed initial training as an A-6 Intruder Bombardier-Navigator (B/N).

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During his career, Crenshaw went on to fly combat sorties in Lybia and Iraq and was deployed on several aircraft carriers.

Ashore, he was assigned to the United States Naval Test Pilot School, receiving the Navy League's Most Outstanding Student Award for the class of '77 and later serving as instructor as the school.

Crenshaw's career took him to far-flung places as a rising star in the Navy as additional duties were added to his roster.

He was awarded numerous medals, including the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Air Medal, Strike Flight Air Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, various campaign and service medals and the SSBN Deterrent Patrol Pin.

The man who knows him best thinks this local boy has done just fine.

&#8220I think he did us right proud,” said his dad, Lewis Crenshaw Sr. The vice admiral's father and mother, &#8220Bobbie,” live on the Ridge, as does his only sibling, younger brother Tom, along with wife Mary Lou and daughter, Jennie.

Crenshaw Sr. recalls raising a &#8220headstrong, stubborn young man” who played on the Greenville High School Tiger Football Squad in the late 1960s.

&#8220They didn't have a lot of size, but those boys played tough and had a pretty good team,” Crenshaw Sr. said.

&#8220I will never forget one night when they were playing in Wetumpka and it was cold, cold. Lewis got hit and right at that time the stadium lights went out,” his father explained.

&#8220Lewis was saying, ‘Boys, I can't see, I can't see! I'm blind.' They told him, ‘It's OK, the lights just went out.”

In addition to playing first-string football at GHS, Crenshaw drove the school bus, served in the JROTC and made grades good enough to get him appointed to both the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy after his high school graduation in 1970.

He was always someone who knew his own mind, his dad said.

&#8220Once, when Lewis was about six, we decided to go to Montgomery and have a nice meal at the Elite. I told him he could order whatever he wanted,” Crenshaw Sr. said.

&#8220Well, the man came to take his order, and Lewis told him he wanted greens, a jar of milk and a big hunk of cornbreadŠI think the fellow brought him a muffin, some spinach and a glass of milk. My little boy couldn't think of anything that would taste better than that and that's what he wanted.”

Crenshaw Sr. points out with pride the collage of photos seen in his son's official retirement program.

&#8220Did you notice who is in some of those with Lewis? The Queen of England, Prince Phillip, the First Lady. Yep, we are pretty proud of him.”