Staff Sargent Thaubald – the War Years

Written By: Ted B Markley

Nostalgia is a natural reflex. Certainly there is much for the Crane Military Complex to be proud of in its muted 75th Anniversary celebration. Recently published, The World War II History of NAD Crane[1] by Tony Haag and Peggy Julian portrays much to admire. It portrays rural Hoosiers mentored by military experts striving to create a national defense treasure. Selfless service and anxiety for the nation were obvious throughout the account.

Seventy-five years ago the United States was not at war, but it was getting ready. Preparation extended well beyond the nascent industrial base reflected in the construction of an ammunition production facility in southern Indiana. It included the largest mobilization of military force in the nation’s history. During World War II, 16.1 million citizens served in uniform[2]. The following is an account on one Mid-Westerner’s service reconstructed from public records, private papers/photos, and family interviews. Until recently even the family of Staff Sargent Thaubald was not aware of the extent of his service.

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After the Fireworks

Written By:   Mr. Matt Craig

In July communities across the nation celebrate our independence. We are reminded of our unparalleled freedoms, our patriotism and, of course, our fellow Americans who have answered the call of duty for our country.

Our region was shaped by one such poignant story of Americans answering that call—through unbelievable dedication, work ethic and tenacity everyday Americans stood up the Naval Ammunition Depot Burns City during WW II, which was nothing short of impossible.

Embroiled in war, our nation needed ammunition, and it needed it immediately.

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Old Projectiles and a Hoosier Spy

Written By: Ted B Markley

In the diamond anniversary year of the Crane Military Complex, it is important to reflect on some of the surviving mementos of Crane’s history. With few exceptions, most of the ordnance relics from Crane’s early years have disappeared. Most have been eliminated due to safety concerns or painted a hideous blue to signify an inert condition.


18 Inch Experimental Projectile

Although neglected, the old projectiles in front of the Administration Building (Building One) are enduring and unique artifacts. It is altogether fitting that a naval activity with its roots in the ordnance business has such a monument at its front door[1].   While the symbolism is apt, the 18 inch experimental projectiles and their associated weapons systems were never used by the U.S. Navy. But, like much of the work associated with Crane, they reflect a world far beyond the installation boundary.

Immediately following World War I, world sentiment recoiled in shock at the carnage created by industrial era weapons. Meanwhile the victor nations sought to reset their armaments. In the early 1920s, the U.S. Navy was in the process of developing a new naval gun system. A prototype of the 18”/48 Mark 1 was about halfway completed when the Washington Naval Limitation Treaty of 1922 outlawed guns larger than 16”. Continue reading

A Pleasant Coincidence

Written By: Ted B Markley

By a pleasant coincidence the State of Indiana and the Crane Military Complex both are celebrating important milestones. Hoosiers are marking their bicentennial year and Crane has been in Indiana for 75 years. Their coexistence has some interesting linkages. One of the more interesting links is between Commodore William M. Crane (1776-1846) and Domenico Mazzullo (1884-1955).

1Commodore Crane was a stalwart figure during the creation of the U.S. Navy and the formation of its culture and traditions. He served in the Quasi-War, Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, and actively participated in military and diplomatic relations in the Mediterranean. During his shore assignments he was involved in the creation of many of the historic naval facilities on the east coast, including the berth where the USS Constitution is moored. Ultimately he was Chief of the Ordnance and Hydrography and the reason why a Naval Ammunition Depot in Indiana came to be name after him in 1943. And, yes his brother Ichabod Crane, a Colonel in the US Army, knew Washington Irving before Irving wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Continue reading