Earl Austin Cruce was born on Easter, April 20th, 1924 in Saskatoon, Sackachwan, Canada. His parents had gone there to homestead. The family came to the U.S. sometime around 1935.
During WWII at the age of 18, Earl enlisted in the Navy. His first duty assignment was about USS English. He served on English from 1951 to 1953. He left the Navy after that tour but re-joined in September 1961. He was assigned to the destroyer tender, USS Dixie (AD-14) in San Diego, California.
After a 9 month WESTPAC cruise, Earl was transferred to Dam Neck, Virginia where he underwent training as a Torpedoman. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the commissioning crew of the Calhoun, undergoing construction in Newport News, Virginia. He was assigned to the Blue crew in 1965 as a plankowner. He made patrols on the Calhoun until 1968, when he was reassigned to Underwater Weapons School in Key West, Florida.
In January 1970, he transferred to shore duty in Honolulu, Hawaii, then back to Charleston around 1972. He retired while in Charleston in 1976. Total active service was 22 years, 2 months, and 2 days. He spent several years in Mississippi after retirement then went to Port Lavaca, Texas. In the subsequent years, he started Cruce Construction Company and built steel homes and buildings specifically designed to withstand hurricane force winds.
On the evening of July 26, 1994, Earl suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 70 years old. The VFW post 4403 in Port Lavaca, Texas performed the graveside honors. Earl is resting eternally in Port Lavaca.
He was survived by his wife, Betty Jean Tschabrun Cruce, three daughters; Wanda Cruce Fischer, Linda Cruce Roby, and Denise Cruce. He is also survived by six grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
This biography was provided by Earl's daughter, Wanda.
Linda Cruce Roby, the second of Earl's three daughters, had written a poem to her father that reflects the love and devotion that his family felt for him. It reflects a sincere understanding and support of his sea-going career in the service of his country. It was their final tribute to their sailor. These are emotions most of us experienced during our careers that we may find difficult to express or admit. Here is the poem that says it for all of us. And, says it beautifully.
They want to sail beyond the world, my sailor and his ship
They leave with all abandon, the harbor and the slip.
Such restless waves call out to them, the wind blows wild and free,
And overhead the sun and stars pour glitter on the sea.
Above the glimmering, rolling waves the gulls report their news,
That my sailor and his ship have left, have left without a crew.
And it's out into the open where deep spreads over deep,
It's out into the open on a glimmering silver sheet.
And beneath where all is deep, sleep ancients who still yearn,
To sail the path my sailor keeps, to learn what he has learned.
The sea has been his friend, his foe,
Has whipped it's fury, rolled with woe,
But homeport, homeport must be near;
the Light that guides drowns out all fear.
No sacrifice too great, no task for him too low,
My sailor, sailor, sailor to homeport now must go.
His Journey leads him on with all his hope renewed,
When softly, softly comes to port, my sailor with no crew.
In his eye a twinkle, on his lips a smile,
For the Journey has transformed and anchored him a while.
Yet, in the blinking of an eye the time will come again,
For my sailor and his ship to brace the mist and wind.
Gladly will he do it, gladly sail us home,
Gladly weather all the storms, the billows and the foam.
He will meet us on the shore where first he left to find,
The everlasting love of God, the miracle of time.
He left with all abandon, the wind blew wild and free,
And in the harbor of God's love, he found serenity.
He will meet us on the far shore, his family and his friends,
And when we reach his Father's port our joy will know no end.
Lord, your are our sailor's Captain, your hand upon his hand,
Grant him safe harbor within your "Promised Land"
By Linda Cruce Roby