Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Thomas Craigg Jr. Scholarship

JACKSONVILLE - Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Arthur Craigg Jr., retired, U.S. Marine Corps, age 90, of Jacksonville, died Sunday, March 2, 2008, at Britthaven of Onslow. Mr. Craigg was a young man from Sulpher Springs, Ark., when at the age of 22, he enlisted Sept. 17, 1940, in the U.S. Marine Corps. More than a year before America's official entry into World War II. When the war broke out, Pfc. Tom Craigg was on the Philippine island of Luzon.

FALL of BATAAN The war in the Pacific officially began Dec. 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Soon after, the Japanese launched a successful offensive against Bataan on the island of Luzon. Pfc. Craigg was in the 4th Marine Regiment under operational control of the Army, Gen. MacArthur's forces. Pfc. Craigg and his unit were ordered to the Bataan Peninsula to defend it against overwhelming large Imperial Japanese forces. The Bataan peninsula was overrun with the Japanese forces and several thousand American prisoners were captured. Pfc Tom Craigg was one of these. During the infamous Bataan Death march Tom witnessed several prisoners being bayoneted because they were falling out or could not keep up. He and another Marine decided to escape and they did. They commandeered a canoe and rowed to the island of Corregidor where a U.S. Army unit was dug in. After holding the island for about 30 days, it too fell to the overwhelming hoards of the Japanese invaders and the outnumbered defenders were ordered to surrender. Tom was wounded in action while defending the Philippines on May 2, 1942, at Corregidor and taken prisoner for a second time by the Japanese. He was transported to Japan in a hell ship, where he was forced to shovel coal in Japanese coal mines, 12 hours a day for almost 2½ years. He was a POW from May 6, 1942, to Aug. 26, 1945.

While Technical Sgt. Craigg, was serving in Korea, he was wounded in action Sept. 27, 1950. GySgt Craigg retired from the Corps in October 1963.

The awards for Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Arthur Craigg, Jr. include: Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal w/combat "V" and Gold Star, Purple Heart with two Gold Stars, Combat Action Ribbon with one Gold Star, Presidential Unit Citation, Presidential Unit Citation (Army) with one Bronze Oak Leaf, Navy Unit Commendation, Prisoner of War Medal, Good Conduct Medal with one Silver Star, American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with one bronze star, Philippine Defense Ribbon with one bronze star, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Rifle Expert Badge and Pistol Expert Badge. Note: One of his Purple Hearts was awarded for the treatment received while a POW. 

Tom Craigg was very active in local and state veterans affairs, where he has served as the North Carolina state and local commander for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV Chapter 16), lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9133, and lifetime member of the Beirut Memorial Chapter 642, Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was a 32nd Degree Mason (St. John's 1), a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite and a Shriner.

You can hear more about GySgt Craigg at "Veterans History Project at Library of Congress

You may contact the Chapter Adjutant for information on applying for the scholarship or the Scholarship Officer.