|Died||1 July 3003|
|Affiliation||Free Worlds League|
Willis Crawford (ca. 2959 -; July 1, 3003), a general in the military of the Free Worlds League, was notable for being the first person to be sentenced to death for a catastrophic military failure in over a century, an incident that may indirectly have been one of the causes for the catastrophic Marik Civil War that began in 3014.
On Anton's recommendation, Willis Crawford was assigned as commanding general to an attack against Solaris VII in September 3002. This attack was in fact the second phase in an offensive on the Lyran front that had begun with an attack on Loric six months earlier. However, the Lyrans had reinforced Loric and ultimately bogged down the Loric offensive into an eight-month campaign until the FWLM withdrew.
Captain-General Janos Marik, Anton's brother, was under great political pressure to succeed in the offensive, and ordered the second phase to begin prematurely while fighting still continued on Loric. On Solaris, Crawford's troops failed to meet their objectives in the initial landings, but he pressed on, presumably because of the pressure put on him to succeed. He admitted defeat only after suffering dreadful casualties and returned with less than half of his command.
The blame for the catastrophic failure was laid at Crawford's feet. On behalf of his friend, Anton Marik appealed to his brother Janos for leniency but Janos Marik refused as he was busy controlling the political fallout from the military debacle that endangered his own standing as Captain-General. Willis Crawford was court-martialled and then shot. His execution was the first military execution in the Free Worlds League in over a century. It is believed that the death of his friend was a major cause for the estrangement between Anton Marik and his brother that culminated in a bloody civil war in 3014.
- Crawford's overconfidence and flawed strategic acumen are lampshaded in Bear Peters's short story Final Exam in the Shrapnel anthology. The author's only other BattleTech story–The Race is not to the Swift–was printed in the same anthology. Undated, it describes a faltering attack against Solaris VII by Free Worlds League forces, apparently meant to be Crawford's ill-fated attack in 3002 (which would make the two stories companion pieces). However, the anachronistic appearance of Hansen's Roughriders, a unit only formed in ca. 3017, rules this out and Crawford is not mentioned in the story either. Later sources fixed the problem by establishing that another unsuccessful raid, with the Roughriders involved in the defense, had occurred at a later point in time.
- implied by him being referred to as an "older classmate" of Anton Marik, who was born in 2960