TOPEKA (KSNT) – Lester Crawshaw’s time in the Navy showed him the importance of service, a value he’s still upholding today, bringing those in the community together for the final send off.

For Lester, joining the military was a family affair.

“I had an older brother that served,” Crawshaw said. “In fact, he was on the ship the same time I was. I knew I was going to be drafted, I wanted to go where I wanted to go.”

Serving as a machinist mate from 1966 to 1970, the perception of the military wasn’t the same as it is today.

“There was a lot of hate going on around the country when I came home and got out,” Crawshaw said. “For years I didn’t even talk about my time in.” 

His perspective shifted after becoming involved with his local VFW and American Legion, putting him on the path he walks today, honoring veterans for the final salute.

“It lets the family know that they will be missed otherwise and at their own place, and that they’re not the only ones that are going to miss them,” Crawshaw said.

Lester is on the honor team where he coordinates with fellow veterans for a proper military funeral. This year alone, he’s worked on 54 funerals.

“I have no trouble rounding up a team,” Crawshaw said. “The men are right there with me all the way.”

For Lester, continuing to serve fellow veterans post service is all apart of the call of duty.

“Part of my obligation,” Crawshaw said. “I did four years, this is carrying over. That’s all it is.”

Putting in hours of preparation, working weeks in advance to make the final salute special, means a lot to Lester.

“I hope when I pass away, that I will be honored too,” Crawshaw said.

In addition to setting up military funerals, Lester has been commander of the Holton VFW since 2018, where he looks to continue supporting his local community for as long as possible.