At 93 years old, Bryan Crouch is currently one of the oldest veterans in Atascosa County. He served for 28 years before retiring in 1978. As a former pilot of the U.S. Air Force, the veteran has flown over many different countries including France, Austria and Germany.
Before enlisting, Crouch was an ag teacher, teaching in Lytle, Charlotte and Poteet. He taught veterans vocational agriculture following their return from World War II. At 22, he decided to enlist, but had no plans on becoming a pilot. However, he wasn’t presented with many options.
“The first basic training that I went through was tough for me,” Crouch said. “I just had never experienced any flying. I didn’t intend to fly. Then they called me in and my LEO (law enforcement officer) said, ‘you’re not going to get anywhere in the Air Force unless you’re a pilot.’ So I just got the application.”
His father-in-law also served as a pilot, so Crouch followed suit beginning his training in Moultrie, Georgia in a P6 plane. While in Georgia, he completed his 50 hours of training before eventually training in a P25 plane in Lubbock at Reese Air Force Base. Though he was nervous the first time flying, Crouch expressed his gratitude about the training process.
“I’m glad I went through it and came out safely,” Crouch said. “I had divine guidance with me all the way, so I was in good shape.”
During the Korean War, Crouch had been stationed in Germany, where he spent three years at the Ramstein Air Base. His wife eventually moved over there with their infant daughter, Laurie. As a family, they spent two and half years there. During his last year in Germany, Crouch had the opportunity of flying the 12th Air Force Commander, General Robert M. Lee. Lee was a two-star general at the time, but later moved up to four stars.
After the Korean War ended, Crouch moved back to Poteet and served at the Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. While at Brooks, he worked in the airport inspector general’s office. After serving in active duty for 12 years, Crouch spent the next 16 years serving as a reserve.
Though he retired in 1978, Crouch has been an active member of the Poteet VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), where he attends general meetings. In addition, he is also a part of the Lions Club.