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David Tarleton Crane, USN

David Tarleton Crane’s family had come to New England from Missouri, sometime in the 1800’s. His paternal line traced its roots back to Tarleton Lee Crane (b1783-d1849) and Mary Crane (b1796-d1844) both of whom are buried in the Crane Cemetery, in Marion County, OH.

David’s middle name was one of the family names, so he gave his son, Lee, one of them as well. 

The Cranes came to Providence, and their determined ways, and the insistence, over generations, to ‘do the right thing’ in all aspects of their lives, gave them the respect of their peers, and the ability to do well in their family endeavors. David’s father, Tarleton, had four sons, and three daughters. His part of the family business was ship’s chandlery, and as sailing ships declined, he looked to other ways to maintain his income. He expanded his business to selling boats, as well as the boating supplies, and he worked hard to make the entire business succeed. 

David was the fourth of the sons, and the fifth child in the very active Crane household. Growing up, he was, like his siblings, encouraged to look at all the possibilities that the world held for his future career. Always drawn to the sea, helping his father in many ways at the chandlery and in the boatyard, the young man found himself looking to a career on the sea. A good student, with good grades, he decided to try for the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, an appointment was not offered, so David went to Brown University, as a Political Science major, with the intent of joining the Navy when he graduated. Knowing his passion for the sea, his family encouraged him to do so. He excelled at Brown, and on graduation, applied for and was accepted in the Navy, as a candidate for OCS.  

David found the course of study at OCS both challenging and invigorating, confirming in his mind that he was ‘right’ for the Navy. He looked forward to his graduation and commissioning as an ensign. As soon as he had his bars, he would marry his sweetheart, Helen Bradford, and leave for his first posting, US Naval Base, Guam.  

The young couple thrived on the Navy life, and David rose to the rank of Lt. Cdr. fairly quickly, based on several outstanding tours, and meritorious incidents, which not only brought him commendations, but rise in rank. It was shortly after he became a Lt.Cdr, that his son, Lee Benjamin Crane was born. Helen had returned to Providence to be with both families for the baby’s birth, and David was given a two week leave to be with his wife following his son’s birth.

Helen was beginning what she called the best time of her life. David was stationed at Naval Station Newport, and they purchased a small home in Providence. A bit of a commute for David, but it was what both of them wanted. For Lee to grow up in their hometown, and it enabled David to continue to build his career in the Navy. It would also allow Helen to be close to home when David was stationed on a ship, and out on maneuvers. At the base, David also took several tours at the Naval War College, the Surface Warfare Officers School, and Command Leadership School.  By the time Lee was five, David was the XO on the Orion a surface transport ship.

It was on the Orion that the steam pipe explosion occurred that took David Crane’s life, and changed his wife and son’s lives forever.

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