Katharine “Kate” Crooks, who recently graduated from West Chester East High School near Philadelphia, begins her Freshman year at Ohio State University in September where she will study Psychology. Kate and her family joined Freedom Alliance at the Freedom Concert in Orlando, Florida on August 14 at the University of Central Florida Arena. They looked on with pride as Kate stood with Lt. Colonel Oliver North on stage and spoke of her dad and his service to our country.
Kate qualified for a Freedom Alliance scholarship because her father, Kerry Crooks, is a military veteran who is permanently disabled with service-connected injuries. Kerry Crooks served nearly ten years on active duty in both the U.S. Navy and Air Force.
As a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, Crooks received the Airman’s Medal for heroism following the crash of an RC-135S aircraft at Shemya Air Force Base in Alaska on March 15, 1981. The plane went down in a blizzard at night with Lt. Crooks on board. Though he was badly injured, his actions immediately following the crash were directly responsible for the attempt to save the lives of two other men. His citation for heroism reads in part:
“On that date, Lieutenant Crooks returned to the flaming wreckage, with complete disregard for his own safety, to assist any survivors. Persevering in this extraordinary humanitarian effort, he was able to remove two injured victims before the burning aircraft exploded. The exemplary courage and heroism displayed by Lieutenant Crooks reflect great credit on himself and the United States Air Force.”
Today, Kate’s father is battling a rare form of cancer and was unable to be with his daughter at the Freedom Concert, but is very proud of what she has achieved so far, and he knows there are many more accomplishments that lie ahead for Kate.
When asked to reflect on Kate’s appearance at the Freedom Concert to honor her father and accept her scholarship, Kerry Crooks said “it meant everything.” He explained how his injuries have been tough on his family over the years. “I know the sacrifices that Kate and the rest of my family have made,” he began, “and to see that they have taken inspiration, rather than shrink into despair or defeatism, from my life’s lessons means the world to me.”
Being at the Freedom Concert and receiving a Freedom Alliance scholarship “has cemented the love of country Kate possesses that goes beyond what she reads in a textbook; these actions demonstrate how many of those in her country truly care,” Crooks said. He explained that achieving a college education will “help her to develop the skills for a better life for her and for others.”
A National Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) Medal winner, Kate achieved an excellent academic record and earned a spot in the National Honor Society and national honor societies for world languages and art. She also participated in band, drama, chorus, speech, and fencing among many other activities.
James Scanlon, the superintendent of the West Chester Area School District, said of Kate that she is “not only an outstanding student, she is also an outstanding citizen.” Dr. Scanlon noted that she “participates in numerous worthy causes and is passionate in her efforts to reach out to the community.”
Kate’s father said that among those worthy causes were ministering to handicapped veterans. As a teenager, “she would make coffee and donuts and take them to the local veterans hospital. She would visit for hours at a time just so they would have somebody to talk to,” he said.
Mr. Crooks said his daughter wants to study neuroscience/psychology at Ohio State so she can continue to help veterans and others upon her graduation. “She wants to learn and understand what it takes to heal the human mind and effectively meld it with technology,” Crooks said of his daughter. “With that understanding, she will be able to better help those who have served and sacrificed for our country to have a better today and even better tomorrows.”
By providing a scholarship to his daughter, Freedom Alliance is pleased to honor the heroism of Kerry Crooks and all like him who have been injured in service to our country.