In Memory of
U.S. Navy Boiler Technician Fireman Rapid City, South Dakota
Pennington County

January 12, 1929 –October 21, 1952
Killed in Action aboard the USS Lewis


James “Jim” Theodore Crossman was born January 12, 1929, to Mr. and Mrs. Theodore F. Crossman. He had one brother and three sisters. His family moved to the Rapid City Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota, circa 1946, where James’ father was the civilian foreman of the steam shop. James entered the U.S. Navy and was stationed aboard the USS Lewis (DE-535), a destroyer escort, as a boiler technician fireman.

On October 21, 1952, the USS Lewis “moved in close to the port of Wonsan to protect two South Korean minesweepers under fire from four to six Communist guns,” according to a newspaper article. The Lewis returned fire and “spread a smoke screen to cover the small Korean vessels.” But then the ship was hit by a 75 millimeter shell which “struck her forward fire room on the right side piercing one boiler.” Six men, including Fireman James Theodore Crossman, were killed, and another later died of his burns. The second shell that hit struck “the left side of the main deck and exploded. Shell fragments hit explosive charges aboard ship” and wounded another sailor. The destroyer was able to continue its mission operating on a single boiler.

The body of James Theodore Crossman was returned to the United States, and he was buried with military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis. He received the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

He is currently survived by one brother, Ed Crossman, of Rapid City. His parents and three sisters are deceased.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Sheila Hansen, teacher, Spearfish School District, August 18, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by the American Battle Monuments Commission, Rapid City Journal, October 21, 1952 issue via Ellen Bishop in Rapid City. Memorial stone photo by Mrs. Hansen. Additional information and profile approval by Ed Crossman, Rapid City.