4th Missile Bn
517th Artillery
Canal Zone



Brent Crawford, Battery A


Recollections from 1959-60

My name is Brent Crawford. I was in 'A' Battery from Jan, 1959 thru Jan 1961. The battery was situated on a hill along the road to Ft. Sherman about 3 or 4 miles (est.) from Gatun locks. The battery consisted of four 90mm anti-aircraft guns.  We had our own radar operation.  I started out as a cannoneer on the guns but after awhile I went to generator school and ran the generators that powered the guns.  When we went to the range near Ft Sherman I was also responsible for supplying all other electric needs-lighting, etc.

If my memory serves me, our brother battery was 'B' Battery and it was located on Ft. Davis. They had 120mm AA guns.  The other two batteries 'C' & 'D' plus Headquarters and Headquarters Battery were on the Pacific side and had the same weaponry.  At that time, Ft. Davis was pretty much a ghost town.  The only units were 'B' Battery and an infantry Bn.  Our unit on the hill was self-sufficient in that we had our own power source, small mess, small PX, theater.  Ah, what a life.  We were on constant alert status and had two types of alert.  One was twenty minute alert where you had to keep your combat gear handy in order to respond to defense positions at Gatun Locks.  Consequently, you did not leave the Battery compound. Married men living in town could not go home.  The second was two hour alert which basically let you do pretty much what you wanted--go into town, Gatun, or what ever.  Each alert period was for two weeks.

Sometime in 1960 we converted to the twin 40mm dusters and moved from the jungle into Ft. Davis.  'B' Battery took our position on the hill and had the Hawk missiles.  Our barracks was at the corner of two roads next to the golf course.  Our motor pool was located at the bend in the highway across from the Chinese Gardens.  Not too far from the American Leg. Post.  The same situation occurred with the units on the Pacific side.

I spent quite a bit of time in Gatun.  I liked to go to the pool and the gym.  I actually learned to swim at Gatun Pool.  Since I was only 18 yrs old then I was only a year or two older than then teens in Gatun (of course, that doesn't mean I didn't go into Colon for some fun though.

Brent Crawford