Des Moines, Iowa --
Davy Crockett was one of the most iconic Americans of the early 19th Century as the United States developed from a colonial power and opened wide western expansion. He was a famous hunter, army scout and entrepreneur. Crockett also served in congress, fighting for the rights of Native Americans. His sense of adventure as well as new opportunities eventually led him to Texas and ultimately his death at the Battle of the Alamo.
At the 132d Wing in Des Moines, Iowa, Master Sgt. David (Davy) Crockett, the 132d Medical Group lab non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), tends to the medical needs of Iowa Guardsmen. While he may not have been “born on a mountain top in Tennessee” or “killed him a bar when he was only three,” Crockett is a direct descendant of the famous American of the early 1800s.
“It’s fun to connect to your past,” said Crockett. “A lot of people nowadays don’t know where they came from so I’m very fortunate to have a strong lineage to a historical individual.”
Naming the firstborn son of each generation 'David' is a Crockett family tradition that started when the legendary Crockett was named David after his grandfather. When it came time to name Crockett though, his parents had a bit of a dilemma.
“My father wanted to name me David but my mother was worried I would get picked on by other kids,” said Crockett. “Ultimately it was my uncle, who is also named David, who convinced them that everything would be fine.”
Fortunately for Crockett, he was not picked on by other children but did receive added attention. With a very recognizable name, Crockett grew up often hearing about his ancestor from other kids, usually in the form of the song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” by George Bruns and Thomas W. Blackburn written for the Disney television mini-series “Davy Crockett” in 1954.
“Kids, when they saw my last name, would usually just sing the song,” said Crockett. “People later did the same when they saw the name on my uniform and then I tell them my first name and lineage and really blow their minds.”
Crockett said growing up he was proud to represent his heritage and didn’t mind the extra attention. He embraced his identity and used it to educate others on just who his famous ancestor was. Crockett said that many people now think of Davy Crockett as an American myth or often times confuse him with Daniel Boone.
“I think it’s funny that people think he wasn’t a real person,” said Crockett. “Some people think he was a Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed type mythos creation.”
Nevertheless, tall tales and the ability to sell a joke with a straight face are also traits Crockett displays from his ancestor. Even though he’s never claimed the ability to grin coons out of trees or ride alligators down streams, Crockett has a reputation for subtle jokes, bad puns and deadpan humor. His fellow Airmen at the 132d MDG said his ability to spin a good yarn always keeps them on their toes.
“He constantly keeps everyone on their toes because he seems so serious when he tells stories and he is such a good actor that you want to believe him even if what he is saying is just crazy and ridiculous,” said Senior Airman Danielle Koster, 132d MDG medic. “Once he’s tricked you so many times you don't believe him when he is actually telling the truth.”
The truth is the Crockett name has served the family well over the generations, leading to chance encounters with astronaut John Glenn, dinner invitations from actor Fess Parker and job offers from Walt Disney himself. But despite the fame of his ancestors, the Davy Crockett of the 132d Wing said that resiliency is one of key takeaways of his ancestor’s life.
“Davy Crockett failed in a lot of endeavors, almost died on numerous occasions and even while in Congress wasn’t liked very much,” said Crockett. “But he was resilient and knew how to connect with people and build good relations with others.”
Crockett uses these lessons in his day to day life in the Air National Guard and enjoys building up others around him while serving his country, family and friends. Whether or not he becomes another American legend someday remains to be seen.
“Connecting to your heritage as a whole is a really great thing,” said Crockett. “You learn a lot from the past and it’s cool just to see how connected everyone really is.”