Thursday, July 11, 2013

TFH 7/11: 2LT Robert Craig, USA

Robert Craig was born in Scotland in 1919. He emigrated to the United States with his family; the Craigs settled in Toledo, Ohio. Robert enlisted in the United States Army on February 28, 1941 - before the United States entered World War II, and according to his enlistment record, before he became a citizen of the United States.

By 1943, he had been commissioned as an officer and was a Second Lieutenant with the 15th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Infantry Division. At dawn on July 10, 1943, Lieutenant Craig stormed ashore with his unit in the Licata area on the Gulf of Gela during the Invasion of Sicily. The next day, an enemy machine gun had already wounded three of his company's officers when Craig volunteered to find it and silence it. Not long after, as the platoon he led was counter-attacked by an enemy as much as three times as large, he used himself as a diversion to allow his men to reach a hill crest. Lieutenant Craig's gallant self-sacrifice inspired his men and rallied them forward to route the superior force.

Lieutenant Craig posthumously received his adopted home's highest honor:

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Favoratta, Sicily, 11 July 1943. Entered service at: Toledo, Ohio. Birth: Scotland. G.O. No.: 41, 26 May 1944. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, on 11 July 1943 at Favoratta, Sicily. 2d Lt. Craig voluntarily undertook the perilous task of locating and destroying a hidden enemy machinegun which had halted the advance of his company. Attempts by 3 other officers to locate the weapon had resulted in failure, with each officer receiving wounds. 2d Lt. Craig located the gun and snaked his way to a point within 35 yards of the hostile position before being discovered. Charging headlong into the furious automatic fire, he reached the gun, stood over it, and killed the 3 crew members with his carbine. With this obstacle removed, his company continued its advance. Shortly thereafter while advancing down the forward slope of a ridge, 2d Lt. Craig and his platoon, in a position devoid of cover and concealment, encountered the fire of approximately 100 enemy soldiers. Electing to sacrifice himself so that his platoon might carry on the battle, he ordered his men to withdraw to the cover of the crest while he drew the enemy fire to himself. With no hope of survival, he charged toward the enemy until he was within 25 yards of them. Assuming a kneeling position, he killed 5 and wounded 3 enemy soldiers. While the hostile force concentrated fire on him, his platoon reached the cover of the crest. 2d Lt. Craig was killed by enemy fire, but his intrepid action so inspired his men that they drove the enemy from the area, inflicting heavy casualties on the hostile force.

Lieutenant Craig's parents' grave in Toledo is also a cenotaph memorial to their hero son. He is not listed as still missing in action from World War II, nor with the US Department of Veterans Affairs or the American Battle Monuments Commission. I can only conjecture that he was buried on Sicily at a location that is either now unknown or not managed by the ABMC.

A Victory-ship, the USNS Lt. Robert Craig (T-AK-252) was named for Craig and served in sea transport roles with both the Army and the United States Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service/Military Sealift Command from 1946-1973.

Two battalions of the 15th Infantry are still on active service as part of the present-day 3rd Infantry Division. 1-15 Infantry is a combined-arms battalion with the division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. 3-15 Infantry is a light infantry battalion with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Both battalions are headquartered at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

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