United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer John Crabtree was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in Ohio, Mississippi, and Texas. Having grown up in a fun and loving Christian family, Crabtree adored his childhood. He had lots of fun and has many adventurous memories of moving from state to state, which happened often. His parents, Arnold and Darla, adopted Crabtree when he was an infant and he grew up alongside his three sisters, Kelly, Stephanie, and Sarah. Kelly, the oldest, unfortunately was diagnosed with Leukemia while the Crabtree family was living in Mississippi at the age of 17 and sadly lost her battle at 20 years old. As a child, Crabtree loved team sports, especially football, as well as comic books, model making, and drawing. Eventually, Crabtree and his wife, Marshell, met while on active duty. They have been married for 16 years.
Growing up, Crabtree was always fascinated by the military and describes his joining as inevitable. On April 11, 1988, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Crabtree loved the teamwork that was involved in serving, which reflected his love for team sports as a child. His main goals were to serve his country and learn as much as he could. Throughout his career, Crabtree had many accomplishments, including serving in EOD Mobile Unit 4, EOD Mobile Unit 2, and Navy EOD Technology Division, and later achieving greater rank and eventually a master technician status.
On Sunday, February 12, 2006, Crabtree was serving in Western Iraq when he and Petty Officer Nicholas Wilson started responding to an improvised explosive device located by a security convoy along the main supply route near the Marine Corps Air Base at al Taqqadum when a buried explosive device detonated, killing Wilson immediately and impacting Crabtree’s face and eyes. He was approximately 10-15 feet away. He sustained impact wounds to his face and ear, as well as total blindness in both eyes. Two days later, Crabtree woke up intubated in the ICU at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center where he remained for a month. He was later transferred to blind rehab in Augusta, Georgia, where he spent two months learning how to use a cane, how to orient himself and navigate with his cane, among other things necessary for a visually impaired person to learn. During his time there, Crabtree met a lot of veterans who were going blind due to age related eye ailments. A few of them became very good friends.
Currently, Crabtree lives in Canal Winchester, Ohio with his wife, Marshell. He would like to thank Marshell and his parents for being his support system throughout his life and through his recovery. Crabtree loves to work with his local VFW, work in the yard, and travel. He also volunteers with his local VFW Post 10523. He is very grateful to Tunnel to Towers for providing him and his family with the stability of a mortgage-free home in addition to the smart home installments and improvements that will make his home more accessible and inclusive for him and his needs. In the future, he is excited to be a part of the T2T Foundation. Crabtree would like others to remember the sacrifice that Nicholas Wilson, 26, USN EOD made while alongside him on the day of his accident. Wilson left his family and friends behind and devastated, and Crabtree feels fortunate that his own family and friends have been spared that.