Monday, March 3, 2008

Tom Craigg, US Marine Hero, died at age 90
Written by: MSgt. John Cooney, USMC (Ret.)

" Freedom is never lost in an instant, it is taken away slowly so as not to disturb those who slumber."

Friends of Tom Craigg -- Many of you never got the opportunity to meet Tom, especially the younger wounded warriors. If you attended the meetings, (MOPH) Military Order of the Purple Heart, Tom was usually there sitting up front on the right side. He was quick to tell you his story and every time that he told it, I learned something new about him. I never got tired of hearing his stories and would listen in when he told someone else.

If you were at an event or function and Tom was the guest speaker, you had better tell him to keep it short or you were in for the long haul. Once at an Americanism Class for about 300 third through fifth graders, I asked Tom to say a few words about his captivity. The kids always liked to hear the stories from the POWs. He told them about shooting the horses and donkeys, and after that, the parrots and monkeys for food. This went on for about 20 minutes. We only had 35 to 40 minutes to give our flag class. The kids loved it, but the teachers were getting queasy and I had to cut him off.

There's also the story about the Flag from Corregador which is now on display at the MCRD in San Diego. After he and another Marine borrowed a canoe, that's the way he would put it, after making their escape from the Bataan Death March. They paddled to the island of Corregador. They fought there for another 28 days before it fell. Before it fell they took the American Flag down and hid it so it would be safe. The POWs hid the flag on their bodies and transferred it around during the 40 months that were in captivity. No one except a very few knew who had the flag on their body. This was to prevent someone from being tortured from giving away it's location. This was done under threat of certain death if caught. We use this story about love of country/flag as a point in our talks to the school kids. The flag was brought back to the states and presented to MCRD.

Attached is the Bio that Tom had on Hand to hand out. At the Christmas show in November at North side high, I was joking with him that I need to rewrite it and get in updated. I never got the chance to get it rewritten. I apologize, it may be a little hard to read, you can try enlarging it for easier reading. I thought it appropriate that this go out today. I'm sure that it will be read at his funeral service in a couple days.

Tom really never recovered from his second knee replacement surgery that he underwent about six months ago. The day of Col. Hodges change of command ceremony on 28 January 2008, Tom Suffered a minor heart attack. Of course at age 90, which he had just turned on 20 January, there's no such thing as a minor heart attack. He fought valiantly, which was a trait of his all of his life. The last few weeks he was reliving his POW experiences and was transferred back and forth from OMH to Britthaven. He finally passed in Britthaven today 2 March 2008, and he is in a better place.

The members of the Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, MOPH Salute you Tom Craigg and may you Rest in Peace. You were my hero and I will miss you brother.

Tom was a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH)
Military Order of the Purple Heart Chief of Staff, Department of NC.Adjutant, Beirut Memorial Chapter 642

Semper Fi,
John Cooney, USMC (Ret.)