Major-General Patrick Crawford died a couple months ago. Yesterday, I was sent his obituary from reader Clare.
The Times Online (UK) piece documents his heroism and incredible career:
Tall, tirelessly energetic and inquiring, Patrick Crawford was just the effective and good-humoured doctor a crisis demands and, for that matter, to address problems from which others tend to shy away. His career as a regimental medical officer began with the Army in Malaysia, where he rescued an officer from a helicopter wreck threatening to explode in flames.
He was house surgeon, casualty and orthopaedics, and house physician at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, 1959-60, before beginning his National Service with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Extending to a regular commission, he served in Malaysia and Borneo until returning in 1964 to England for courses at the Royal Army Medical College.
His experience in the Far East led him to dedicate his research and teaching to the subject of preventive medicine, then regarded as something of a Cinderella discipline. Malaria became his particular target, leading him into community and occupational medicine.
A humanist, seemingly from his exposure in his early days in the army to different religious groups, from the animist tribes of Borneo and Papua New Guinea to the Hindu Gurkhas, Crawford respected the enlightened teachings of all religions, providing him with an insight that was neither judgmental nor prescriptive.
An atheist who served in a foxhole — a man admired by so many others.
If only more stories like these were brought to light, it would be a wonderful thing for atheists everywhere.
Crawford was a hero for all of us.
(Thanks to Clare for the link!)