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Sammy Crowns

 

Date and Place of Birth: February 2, 1919 Nekoosa, WI
Date and Place of Death:    March 28, 1945 Romblon Island, The Philippines
Baseball Experience: Semi-Pro
Position: Third Base
Rank: Private
Military Unit: 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Howard R. "Sammy" Crowns, son of Neal and Geneva Crowns, was born in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, on February 2, 1919. He attended Alexander High School in Nekoosa where he starred in baseball, football and basketball.

He later worked for the Nekoosa-Edwards Paper Company and played baseball in the Wood County League with the Nekoosa team and basketball with the Modern Shoes team in the Wisconsin Rapids City League. Crowns was an all-star baseball player at third base but is best remembered for his basketball prowess. Playing in the City Basketball League, he established a Lincoln fieldhouse
scoring record of 36 points in one game. "Sammy was speed personified on the basketball court," wrote Don Unferth in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune on April 24, 1945.

On May 31, 1939, Crowns married Geneva Jackson. They had two daughters, Jeanine and Juanita.

Military service beckoned on May 22, 1944 and he received basic training at Camp Hood, Texas, assigned to the 148th Battalion R.R.T.C. Crowns was home on a furlough in October 1944, and it would be the last time he saw his wife and daughters before heading overseas. He was transferred to Fort Ord, California, after that furlough and left for overseas in December 1944.

Private Crowns served with the 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division in the Pacific Theater. In March 1945, he was part of the invasion force that landed on Romblon Island in the Philippines. Private Crowns lost his life on March 28. He was buried at Tacloban, in The Philippines.

"It is sad indeed to learn of the death of Howard 'Sammy' Crowns in action in the Philippines," wrote Unferth in the Daily Tribune on April 24, 1945. "Sammy's wife, his daughters, his parents will miss him terribly. The Wisconsin Rapids City League will miss him too."

Sammy Crowns

Sammy Crowns (front row, second left) with the Alexander High School basketball team in 1937

Sammy Crowns

Sammy Crowns #24 (second row, first left) with the Alexander High School football team in 1937

Nekoosa Memorial

This bronze plaque, which includes the name of Howard "Sammy" Crowns, was erected in front of the Nekoosa-Port Edwards Veterans Memorial Building in 1960. It is now located at the City of Nekoosa Municipal Building.

Thanks to Astrid van Erp for help with photos for this biography.

Date Added June 4, 2012 Updated August 5, 2017

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