Dennis Crosby flew West in his sleep on 29 May 2013. His father did the same thing at the same age.
Dennis Crosby had his "Finny Flight" 29 May 2013. In his sleep, as it should be...
Most loved his "Spirit" - the list is long...
Raise your glass - To Croz!
Rest in Peace my friend...
Brent Barker BBarker
To all the Grizzlies,
I had planned to write this to all of you but I have been still trying to come to grips with my brother’s passing. I am still struggling with this but it now seems a good time since Brent has helped me along with the message he sent to all of you today. I owe so much gratitude to Brent who has been nothing but kind and supportive and who took it upon himself to let all of you know about Dennis. He has also just been there to offer support. This has meant a great deal to me, more than he probably knows.
Thank you doesn’t even begin to convey how much your stories about Dennis and your tributes to him meant to me and Dennis’ twin brother, Doug. (Yes, Dennis has a twin in case he never shared that with you. Dennis kept his life close to the vest and one of his mottos was, “Your stuff is yours and mine is mine.” I’ve also learned from one of his golf buddies that another motto he had was “Make time, waste time, or have a good time.” I’m not sure if that last one was before retirement or after but I’m hopeful that this last year and half of retirement for him was having a good time, especially playing golf.
I have always known growing up with Dennis that his passion was flying. I remember him taking flying lessons in Medford, OR (I think he was around 14) and once he got his pilot’s license he would occasionally take me flying in his rented Cessna. I remember thinking there was no one else I would have trusted to go flying in that small plane other than him. I remember him joining ROTC when he went to Oregon State University and afterwards joining the Air Force. After leaving the Air Force it was on to the Air National Guard. He always seemed happiest when he was flying his fighter jets. (Also, the jokes about him being a tanker pilot were not lost on me. I remember well Dennis not being happy about that.) We were lucky that a couple of times he was able to fly his F-4 up to the Oregon Air National Guard base. It was always a thrill for our family to see him flying his F-4. Our family was always so proud of him and his accomplishments.
What I didn’t know and now have become keenly aware, because of all of you, is what a special bond and camaraderie you all have with each other. What I have discovered from reading your stories and thoughts about Dennis is what a remarkable group of people all of you are and to know that my big brother, Dennis, was a part of your group couldn’t make me happier. I truly believe that the best time in my brother’s life was with all of you. Anyone would envy what a tightknit group this is and how you have each other’s back. I know I do.
Thank you again for your stories and kind thoughts about Dennis. Please know how much it is appreciated.
Mary Crosby (Croz's sister) was touched by your kind responses. She and the Crosby family were not previously aware of the impact the Grizzlies had on her brother's life.
She recently sent the following:
"Thank you for helping me understand military lingo, i.e. “slow hand salute.” The bond and camaraderie between all of you is truly one of a kind. I really can’t thank you enough."
I have Cc'd Mary on this note and welcome her to the Grizzly family.
Or the impact he had on our lives. The Guard, ours at least - our time - our group, is like a family, except in many ways closer. We are all richer for the influence each of us has had on the others. We were fortunate to have Croz with us and part of us.
I loved flying with him. He never scared me, I never felt I'd be happier to have him as lead so I didn't have to fly looking over my shoulder. At the same time, I did not mind flying on his wing, his judgement was sound. He was a great guy to fly with.
Plus, he was a good guy to be at Sally's with.
Hap Arnold - Izod the Rat
Thank you for your kind note to everyone about Dennis. It helps me so much to read about how each of you felt about Dennis. I feel so proud of him when I hear things like what you said about flying with him. Thank you for that.
I hear so much about this “Sally’s” place. If you don’t mind me asking, where is this place?
First Croz was special. We flew a lot together and I liked flying with him. That is a big deal for us.
Back about 1981 before we moved to March, the junior officers were getting in trouble at the Officer's Club. Imagine that. They were upsetting the senior officers, retired officers and their wives. The kids were thought to be a rowdy bunch. So, after a number of them got tired of getting constantly thrown out, they complained to the bar tender - one Sally Alley. At that time a blonde somewhere around forty who was the best bartender in the OId People's Club.
Sally approached management about taking over the storage room behind the club, across the alley (see a fortunate play on words coming up?). Desperate to get the troublemakers out, Club management agreed.
With a bit of help, Sally cleaned out the storage building and made it a bar. It was known as Sally's Alley. It did pretty well for a couple of months. Then, the Grizzlies moved from Ontario to March. We took over the bar, we put ourselves out for adoption, Sally adopted us and it was our bar. Until a few years in to the tanker, from the O-2, to the F-4C, the F-4E(S), the RF-4C and at least four years into the KC-135, it was the place. We flew, then went to Sally's. It was the Grizzlies home. Like no other place, it was ours.
You could always find a beer there, if you forgot your money, you paid next time. Sally always managed to find some food for us. When there was Grizzly beer, she always had it. There is nothing Sally did not know and no one she could not influence. She knew everyone. She was more than a legend, she was Sally. We were each her kid and each her boyfriend. She was conflicted. But, wonderful. She died some place around 1999 of congestive heart failure.
The bar still exists. Alas, it is a different world, a different time, a different Air Force, even a different Air National Guard. It seems like a quote from Lord of the Rings, but our time is past.
Croz has a page on the Grizzly site. http://www.grzly.org/crosby.html
GRZLY was our squadron call sign after the first few years of the O-2 when the tactical people took over. You needed five letters to fit in the old Air Traffic computers. Seemed like it fit us, after all we were California Grizzlies.
If you have any pictures of Dennis you would like to share, we would love to have them.
We are all sad he is gone, but also grateful to have spent some of our time here with him.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading everything you wrote. You definitely have a way with words! This is so incredible to have this back story about the Grizzlies and Sally’s. You taking the time to write this really helps me understand this time in my brother’s life which I know meant so much to him. Thank you for the link to Sally’s Facebook page and especially Dennis’ page on the Grizzly website. I enjoyed the cartoon too. SMILEY
As you requested, I have attached three of my favorite pictures of Dennis (aka Croz). The first picture is my favorite. CLICK HERE FOR THE FAVORITE.
I copied Brent on this too as I thought the history you provided about the Grizzlies and Sally’s might be something others would like to read too or possibly on your Grizzly page. I’ll leave that up to you two.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me. I can’t say enough good things about all of you.
Thanks for letting me know. I'll remember him & his family in my prayers. - Ken Boyd
What a shame - he will be sorely missed. I can still remember a couple of TDYs with him where he could drink me under the table anytime - a true Grizzly forever!! I just had a few in his honor and I just might have a few more.
Very sad...thanks for letting us know Brent. We were cube mates at Northrop in the mid 80's.
Of all the things this group did - Croz was integral part.
The stories abound.
Life is short - live it- Croz did.
Croz was the first Grizzly I met. The A team was going through RTU in Boise and he came over and started grilling me on tactics for the RF-4. He wanted to know WTF....a fighter with no weapons...he walked away shaking his head....I remember thinking, "Damn, these California guys are intense.". Loved that guy. I really pissed him off though when after doing a local in the KC-135 and I was his co-pilot and I told him, "gawd Crosby , you are the best tanker pilot I ever saw!" To which he replied, "fuck you!" And we laughed.
A great spirit, a great friend, and goddaminit, a great (tanker) pilot.
I'm in Scotland as I write this, and I'll raise my glass!
Dwayne Cowles - Cowman - DwayneBob
A shock for sure. A true Flight-Lead, a true Friend, an outstanding Guard Fighter Pilot (if ya ain't cheat'n, ya ain't try'n), one that flew like few could (like Dwyane-Bob, even in the Tanker) and he really knew how to charge the bar at Sally's!!!!
A Salute to you, Fly Safe my friend!!!
Don Farmer - Piggie
So many facets to his character. Always enjoyed his passion for flight and fight. I also had the pleasure to experience his corporate expertise working with Northrop. He will be sorely missed.
Jim Porter Opus
Brent, Although he was a friend to us all, I remember him as one of your closest. Sorry for you loss.
Him....Him...F*** Him. Cheers
Bobby Dusair - BobbyBob
Although I was not lucky enough to ever have had a ride w/Croz in the pointy end I do remember his grinning face in the Intel ORI briefs and some pretty spectacular nights at Sally's. Another good one gone.
Greg Ervice - IMan
To all the Grizlies
Croz was definitely one of a kind. He pledged for years until we had a space. He made all deployments, was an integral part of the Grizzly heritage and most importantly, some one you would go to war with. Fly West my wingman, blue Skye's, fuel in your tanks, altitude above and runway ahead. Slow hand salute.
What a shock. Croz and I were hired together. We flew the '89 March Air show together. If I had ever stuck my F-4 nose into a fight, I would want him with me. Croz was also one of the funniest guys I ever met. He is cracking up a new audience in a new briefing room now.
Sorry to hear about Cros, great guy to fly with and party with.
Jim Thornell Jimmy Jet
So sorry, enjoyed flying with Croz. . .and as ScottBob said his sense of humor was best seen to date.
Randy Ball RB
Croz was one of those guys that when his name came up you couldn't help but grin… There could be a book called Croz stories. B told some of the best of them from when they were lieutenants. You haven't lived until you've been through some sort of ground training with Croz. One was when we were up in Boise at the RTU going through a modified syllabus. We had been going through an instructor lead slide show for what seemed like hours and hours. After a break we got a new instructor who If I remember right was Mike "Taco" Bell (great guy). This new module was entitled "cockpit instrumentation". After Taco introduced himself he put up the first slide which was a picture of an HSI and said, "did you guys have one of these in your F-4's?" With that, Croz sprang to his feet and said, "NO MAS! NO MAS!" and walked out.
I could go on and on. Croz was a Fighter Pilot. Tailwinds…
ScottBob Combest - Unknown Rider
From RB's promotion ceremony-what happened to all of us young guys?
Croz--this was not supposed to happen until much later. Safe flight, my friend.
David Snell, M.D., MBA
COL (MC) USAFR
Chief Flight Surgeon
59th Medical Wing