Lt. General Edward A. Craig (USMC)

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Edward Arthur Craig

Birthdate: (98)
Death: 1994 (98)
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Franklin Craig and Lilian Emma Craig

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About Lt. General Edward A. Craig (USMC)

Edward A. Craig (November 22, 1896 — December 11, 1994) was a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, and a decorated combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War who eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant General. Craig is best known as the general who commanded the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade during its actions in the Korean War.


Edward A. Craig was born on November 22, 1896 in Danbury, Connecticut. His father was an officer in the United States Army, so Craig, a military brat, spent much of his childhood moving around the country. Craig had his first experience with the US Marine Corps when he was 10 years old while sightseeing at the Washington Navy Yard, where he was arrested for photographing naval guns. The Marines released him after confiscating the film from his camera.

Military career

He attended St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin and graduated in 1917. Craig had been in the Reserve Officer's Training Corps for four years in the academy, and with the outbreak of World War I, he was offered a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He had originally wanted to join the US Army, but was unable to do so because the minimum age for a commission was 21 years old, and so he decided to pursue the Marines, where he could commission at 20. Craig, who was living in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas at the time, failed two eyesight tests in Chicago, Illinois and had to personally plead to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General George Barnett, for a third try. He passed his third eye exam and was commissioned on August 23, 1917. Craig later said his chief motivation to join the Marines was to fight in World War I, and he thought the failure of his eye test slowed his career considerably. He also said his father did not approve of his decision to join the Marines, thinking them "a terrible bunch of drunks and bums".

Occupation duties

Craig was sent to training at Marine Corps Base Quantico near Triangle, Virginia. In November 1917, Craig was assigned to duty with the 8th Marine Regiment as an adjutant to the senior staff. He continued officer training there into 1918. His unit was never dispatched to fight in World War I, instead it was moved to Fort Crockett in Galveston, Texas to safeguard oil fields in Tampico and other coastal areas from attack by the German Empire.[9] The regiment stayed there for 18 months, during which it trained intensely and Craig was promoted to First Lieutenant.

In April 1919, Craig was ordered to foreign shore duty in Haiti. His regiment, along with the 9th Marine Regiment sailed for Cuba and landed in Santiago, then Guantanamo Bay before landing in Port-au-Prince. The troops were made a part of the 1st Marine Brigade as part of the US contingent during the occupation of Haiti. He only stayed in Port-au-Prince for a short time, though, before being transferred to the 2nd Marine Brigade during the occupation of the Dominican Republic. He was placed in command of the 70th Company, 15th Marine Regiment operating out of La Romana. There he spent much of his time patrolling the area for bandits and rebels. He spent 8 months with the 70th Company before returning to Santo Domingo, being promoted to Captain before returning to First Lieutenant due to reorganization in the Marine Corps. He was then transferred to a remote outpost, Vincentillo, where he served for six months.

He returned to the United States in December 1921, returning to Quantico before heading to San Diego, hoping to join new units forming at that city's newly established base. However, the Marine Corps diverted him to Puget Sound, where there was an opening. where he served as Commanding Officer of the Marine Detachment at the Puget Sound Naval Ammunition Depot, Washington State. Craig later said he did not enjoy this duty because of its isolation, and so requested transfer. He was ordered to foreign shore duty in 1922, on this occasion to the Olongapo Naval Station in The Philippines. Craig only stayed there briefly, though, as he was again dissatisfied with the station.

Inter-war period

In February 1924, Craig met a former commanding officer in a chance encounter and was able to trade his duty with that of an officer aboard the Pennsylvania-class cruiser USS Huron, part of the detachment of Marines on that ship. He spent the next two years aboard the ship traveling throughout the Pacific Ocean. He later said he looked fondly on these years. During the duty, he also participated in several landings in Asia. Troops from the Huron were among an international force that landed in Shanghai, China in 1924 to protect the Shanghai International Settlement from rival Chinese armies fighting nearby. This duty lasted a month and Craig's force never saw combat. As it was in the midst of its Warlord Era, China's scattered international interests were frequently threatened, and Craig again landed in China, and the force was sent to protect the Peking American Legation from an offensive by warlord Wu P'ei-fu. He remained in Peking for around a month as part of another international force before returning to the Huron.

Craig returned to the United States in March 1926, and was assigned to the 4th Marine Regiment at San Diego, California briefly, before being assigned in June of that year as aide-de-camp to the Major General Commandant at Headquarters Marine Corps, John A. Lejeune, in Washington, D.C.. This post entailed numerous inspection trips and civilian duties with the General, whom Craig later said he liked. Craig remained in this post until Lejeune's retirement in 1929.

In May 1929, Craig requested to be moved to Nicaragua for duty with the Nicaraguan National Guard. Craig was subsequently sent to serve at Jinotega as one of the staff officers for the local battalion, and Craig later said this entailed numerous routine inspections of local outposts and training local troops. Near the end of 1931, Craig then joined the Marine Corps Base at San Diego, California, where he remained until June 1933. During this period he was on temporary duty in Nicaragua under the State Department from June to November 1932. Following a short interval of three months during which Craig commanded a Marine detachment at Disciplinary Barracks, San Diego, he returned to the Marine Corps Base where he was assigned as a Company Commander in the 6th Marine Regiment, Fleet Marine Force. In July 1936, he was detailed as the personnel officer in the 2nd Marine Brigade. Craig joined the Marine Corps Schools at the Marine Barracks in Quantico, Virginia, in July 1937, as a student in the Senior Course. Upon graduation in May the following year, he again returned to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego where he served as instructor in the Platoon Leaders' Course, Inspector-Instructor of Reserve Battalion Field Training, and Base Adjutant.

From June 1939 to June 1941, he was Marine Officer and Intelligence Officer for Admiral Ernest King aboard the aircraft carriers USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise, and for an interval of four months was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor. Here, Craig was often on the move with King's staff as they moved and exercised throughout the Pacific Ocean. During this time he also served under Charles Adams Blakely and William Halsey, Jr., each of whom commanded the force for a short time.

World War II

In July 1941, he again joined the Marine Base at San Diego and in October the same year was appointed Provost Marshal and Commanding Officer of the Guard Battalion at the base. These duties took on increasing importance with the outbreak of World War II, and particularity after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. During Craig's tenure the military police presence grew substantially. Craig stayed at this post until March, 1942 when he joined the 2nd Marine Division as the commander of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, but was quickly reassigned in June 1942 as Executive Officer of the 9th Marine Regiment. In this position, though, Craig only conducted maneuvers with the division, and never sailed for combat. He remained in the position until October when he became Commanding Officer, Service Troops, 3rd Marine Division, and was promoted to Colonel.

Craig sailed with the division for the South Pacific in February 1943. He arrived in New Zealand with the division, commanding the service troops in training and maneuvers on that island, Craig requested to return to an infantry unit and in July of that year was made commander of the 9th Marines, replacing Lemuel C. Shepherd, who had been promoted. Craig was subsequently transferred to Guadalcanal with those Marines. Commanding the 9th Marines during the landings at Bougainville Island in November 1943, Craig led his troops through Bougainville Campaign for months as they fought Japanese forces on the island. Craig's troops continued their presence on the island until April, 1944, when they were pulled back to Guadalcanal to prepare for another operation. For his leadership during the campaign, Craig was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

For his participation in the invasion and subsequent recapture of Guam, Marianas Islands, he received the Navy Cross, and while serving as Operations Officer, V Amphibious Corps, he was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding services during the bitter campaign on Iwo Jima. Later while commanding the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in Korea he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star Medal, and the Air Medal with Gold Star in lieu of a second award.

Remaining as Commanding Officer of the regiment he took part in the invasion and subsequent recapture of Guam, Marianas Islands, in July and August 1944, where he was awarded the Navy Cross. He was ordered to the V Amphibious Corps in September 1944, where he became Corps Operations Officer, in which capacity he planned and participated in the landing and assault on Iwo Jima in February 1945. He returned to the United States in July 1945, and assumed duties as Chief of Staff of the Marine Training Command, San Diego Area. From October 1945 to July 1946, he served as Commanding Officer of the Redistribution Regiment of the Marine Training and Replacement Command, San Diego Area.

After six months as Chief Instructor of the Troop Training Unit, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet, during which time he was in charge of the Specialized Amphibious Training of Eighth Army Troops in Japan, he was promoted to brigadier general and again ordered overseas as Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Tientsin, China. On 1 June 1947 he was assigned as Commanding General, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force on Guam where he remained for two years.

Korean War

The U.S. Marine Corps, which had been drastically reduced in size after World War II, was unprepared for another war at the outset of the Korean War on June 25, 1950. The United States military Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered the Marine Corps to ready a 15,000-man division into Korea as a part of the United Nations Command being created there. The Marine Corps began rebuilding the 1st Marine Division to wartime strength, but in the meantime assembled a 4,725-man force around the 5th Marine Regiment to assist in the war effort as quickly as possible. On July 7, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was reactivated in California. One week later it sailed from Long Beach and San Diego. The regiment, which had originally been slated for landing in Japan, bypassed that country and landed at Pusan in South Korea on August 3. It was put under command of Craig. The brigade was supported by Marine Aircraft Group 33. It became a subordinate unit of the Eighth United States Army under Lieutenant General Walton Walker, who placed it in his reserve.

When the 1st Marine Division subsequently arrived in Korea, he once again became Assistant Division Commander and took part in the landing at Inchon and operations in Northeast Korea. He was appointed to his present rank in January 1951. In March 1951, he returned to the United States, and assumed duties at Marine Corps Headquarters as Director of the Marine Corps Reserve.

Main article: Battle of Masan

The brigade was immediately moved to Masan, the western-most flank of the Pusan Perimeter which the Eighth Army had set up to resist the North Korean Army which was attempting to overrun the UN forces. The brigade joined the U.S. 25th Infantry Division and the 5th Regimental Combat Team, under Major General William B. Kean. The three units together formed "Task Force Kean."

General Walker and the Eighth Army began preparing a counteroffensive, the first conducted by the UN in the war, for August 6. It would kick off with an attack by the U.S. reserve units on the Masan area to secure Chinju from the North Korean 6th Division, followed by a larger general push to the Kum River in the middle of the month. The plan of attack required the force to move west from positions held near Masan, seize the Chinju Pass, and secure the line as far as the Nam River.

Task Force Kean kicked off its attack on August 7, moving out from Masan. It surged forward to Pansong, inflicting another 350 casualties on the North Koreans. There, they overran the North Korean 6th Division's headquarters. However the rest of the Task Force was slowed by North Korean resistance. Task Force Kean pressed on the Chindong-ni area, resulting in a confused battle where the fragmented force had to rely on air strikes and airdrops to keep it effective. Task Force Kean's offensive had collided with one being delivered simultaneously by the North Korean 6th Division.

Heavy fighting continued in the area for three days. By August 9, Task Force Kean was poised to retake Chinju. The task force, aided by air power, initially advanced quickly though North Korean resistance was heavy. On August 10, the Marines picked up the advance, inadvertently encountering the North Korean 83rd Motorized Regiment of the 105th Armored Division. F4U Corsairs from the 1st Marine Air Wing strafed the retreating column repeatedly, inflicting 200 casualties and destroying about 100 of the regiment's equipment vehicles. However, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade forces were withdrawn from the force on August 12 to be redeployed elsewhere on the perimeter.

Main article: First Battle of Naktong Bulge

Immediately north on the line, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was desperately needed to break a stalemate between the U.S. 24th Infantry Division and the NK 4th Division. Beginning at midnight on the night of August 5–6, North Koreans had begun crossing the Naktong River at the Ohang ferry site, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of Pugong-ni and west of Yongsan, carrying light weapons and supplies over their heads or on rafts. The North Korean attack caught the Americans, who were expecting an attack from further north, by surprise. Subsequently the North Koreans were able to capture a large amount of American equipment. The attack threatened to split the American lines and disrupt supply lines to the north.

Repeated American attacks resulted in a stalemate.[52] By the morning of August 7, North Koreans were able to press forward and capture the Cloverleaf Hill and Oblong-ni Ridge, critical terrain astride the main road in the bulge area. By 16:00 that day, the U.S. 9th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, a newly arrived unit, was sent to the region. 24th Infantry Division commander Major General John H. Church immediately ordered it to attack the bulge salient. Despite a tenacious attack, the 9th Infantry was only able to regain part of Cloverleaf Hill before intense fighting stalled its movement. After a series of unsuccessful counterattacks The threat to Yongsan necessitated more U.S. reinforcements. As U.S. casualties mounted, a frustrated Walker ordered the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to the area to turn the tide.

The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade mounted a massive offensive on Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni on August 17. The offensive began at 08:00 on August 17, with U.S. forces unleashing all heavy weapons available to them against the North Korean positions; artillery, mortars, M26 Pershing tanks, and airstrikes.

At first, tenacious North Korean defense halted the Marines who responded with artillery, raking Cloverleaf Hill. Heavy indirect fire forced the North Koreans out of their positions before the Marines and Task Force Hill eventually overwhelmed them, one hill at a time. The Marines approached Obong-ni first, destroying resistance on the slope with an airstrike and a barrage from U.S. tanks, but strong resistance caused heavy casualties, and they had to withdraw. The 18th North Korean Regiment, in control of the hill, mounted a disastrous counterattack in hopes of pushing the Marines back. The division's tactics of cutting off supplies and relying on surprise, which had provided them so much success up to this point, failed in the face of massive U.S. numerical superiority.

By nightfall on August 18, 4th North Korean Division had been annihilated; huge numbers of deserters had weakened its numbers during the fight, but by that time, Obong-ni and Cloverleaf Hill had been retaken by the U.S. forces. Scattered groups of North Korean soldiers fled back across the Naktong, pursued by American planes and artillery fire. The next day, the remains of 4th Division had withdrawn across the river. In their hasty retreat, they left a large number of artillery pieces and equipment behind which the Americans later pressed into service.

The battle caused heavy casualties for both sides. By the end of the fight, the NK 4th Division had been completely destroyed, with only 300 or 400 men in each of its regiments. Of its original 7,000 men, the regiment now had a strength of only 3,500, having suffered over 1,200 killed. Several thousand of the members of the division deserted during the fight. Most of these men were South Korean civilians forcibly conscripted into the North Korean army. The 4th Division would not recover until much later in the war. The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade reported 66 Marines dead, 278 wounded, and one missing. In total, American forces suffered around 1,800 casualties during the war, including about a third them killed.

Main articles: Second Battle of Naktong Bulge and Battle of Yongsan

By September 1, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was down to 4,290 men, having suffered 500 casualties in its month of Korean service. At that point, it was preparing to move back to Pusan to evacuate to Japan. There, the brigade was to join with more Marine reinforcements to reform the 1st Marine Division, which would then be a part of X Corps for a counterattack at Inchon. However, the North Korean Great Naktong Offensive delayed these plans, as the brigade was needed to repel one more North Korean crossing of the Naktong River.

At the same time, the 1st and 2nd Regiments of the NK 9th Division, in their first offensive of the war, stood only a few miles short of Yongsan after a successful river crossing and penetration of the American line. Division commander Major General Pak Kyo Sam felt the chances of capturing Yongsan were strong. On the morning of September 1, with only the shattered remnants of E Company at hand, the U.S. 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division had virtually no troops to defend Yongsan. Division commander Major General Lawrence B. Keiser formed ad-hoc units from his support troops but they were not enough to counter the North Korean attack.

On September 2, Walker spoke by telephone with Major General Doyle O. Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff, Far East Command in Tokyo. He described the situation around the Perimeter and said the most serious threat was along the boundary between the U.S. 2nd and 25th Infantry Divisions. He said he had started the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade toward Yongsan but had not yet released them for commitment there and he wanted to be sure that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur approved his use of them, since he knew that this would interfere with other plans of the Far East Command. Walker said he did not think he could restore the 2nd Division lines without using them. Hickey replied that MacArthur had the day before approved the use of the Marines if and when Walker considered it necessary. A few hours after this conversation Walker, at 13:15, attached the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to the U.S. 2nd Division and ordered a coordinated attack by all available elements of the division and the Marines, with the mission of destroying the North Koreans east of the Naktong River in the 2nd Division sector and of restoring the river line. The Marines were to be released from 2nd Division control as soon as this mission was accomplished.

A conference was held that afternoon at the U.S. 2nd Division command post attended by leaders of the U.S. Eighth Army, 2nd Division, and 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. A decision was reached that the Marines would attack west at 08:00 on September 3 astride the Yongsan-Naktong River road; U.S. Army troops would attack northwest above the Marines and attempt to re-establish contact with the U.S. 23rd Infantry; the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, remnants of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, and elements of the 72nd Tank Battalion would attack on the left flank, or south, of the Marines to reestablish contact with the 25th Division.

Between 03:00 and 04:30 September 3, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade moved to forward assembly areas. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines assembled north of Yongsan, the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines south of it. The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines established security positions southwest of Yongsan along the approaches into the regimental sector from that direction. The Marine attack started at 08:55 toward North Korean-held high ground 0.5 miles (0.80 km) westward. The 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, south of the east-west road, gained its objective when North Korean soldiers broke under air attack. Air strikes, artillery concentrations, and machine gun and rifle fire of the 1st Battalion now caught North Korean reinforcements in open rice paddies moving up from the second ridge and killed most of them. In the afternoon, the 1st Battalion advanced to Hill 91.

North of the road the 2nd Battalion had a harder time, encountering heavy North Korean fire when it reached the northern tip of Hill 116, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Yongsan. The North Koreans held the hill during the day, and at night D Company of the 5th Marines was isolated there. In the fighting west of Yongsan Marine armor knocked out four T-34 tanks, and North Korean crew members abandoned a fifth. That night the Marines dug in on a line 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Yongsan. The 2nd Battalion had lost 18 killed and 77 wounded during the day, most of them in D Company. Total Marine casualties for September 3 were 34 killed and 157 wounded. Coordinating its attack with that of the Marines, the 9th Infantry advanced abreast of them on the north.

Just before midnight, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, received orders to pass through the 2nd Battalion and continue the attack in the morning. That night torrential rains made the troops miserable and lowered morale. The North Koreans were unusually quiet and launched few patrols or attacks. The morning of September 4, the weather was clear. The counterattack continued at 08:00 September 4, at first against little opposition. North of the road the 2nd Battalion quickly completed occupation of Hill 116, from which the North Koreans had withdrawn during the night. South of the road the 1st Battalion occupied what appeared to be a command post of the NK 9th Division. Tents were still up and equipment lay scattered about. Two abandoned T-34 tanks in excellent condition stood there. Tanks and ground troops advancing along the road found it littered with North Korean dead and destroyed and abandoned equipment. By nightfall the counterattack had gained another 3 miles (4.8 km).

That morning, September 5, after a 10-minute artillery preparation, the American troops moved out in their third day of counterattack. It was a day of rain. As the attack progressed, the Marines approached Obong-ni Ridge and the 9th Infantry neared Cloverleaf Hill where they had fought tenaciously during the First Battle of Naktong Bulge the month before. There, at midmorning, on the high ground ahead, they could see North Korean troops digging in. The Marines approached the pass between the two hills and took positions in front of the North Korean-held high ground. At 14:30 approximately 300 North Korean infantry came from the village of Tugok and concealed positions, striking B Company on Hill 125 just north of the road and east of Tugok. Two T-34 tanks surprised and knocked out the two leading Marine M26 Pershing tanks. Since the destroyed Pershing tanks blocked fields of fire, four others withdrew to better positions. Assault teams of B Company and the 1st Battalion with 3.5-inch rocket launchers rushed into action, took the tanks under fire, and destroyed both of them, as well as an armored personnel carrier following behind. The North Korean infantry attack was brutal and inflicted 25 casualties on B Company before reinforcements from A Company and supporting Army artillery and the Marine 81-mm. mortars helped repel it. September 5 was a day of heavy casualties everywhere on the Pusan Perimeter. Marine units had 35 killed, 91 wounded, and none missing in action, for a total of 126 battle casualties. Total American battle casualties for the day were 1,245 men.

During the previous night, at 20:00 September 4, Walker had ordered the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade released from operational control of the 2nd Division effective at midnight, September 5. At 00:15, September 6, the marines began leaving their lines at Obong-ni Ridge and headed for Pusan. They would join the 1st Marine Regiment and 7th Marine Regiment in forming the new 1st Marine Division.

Walker had protested in vain against releasing the brigade, believing he needed it and all the troops then in Korea if he were to stop the North Korean offensive against the Pusan Perimeter. The order prompted a heated disagreement between Walker's command and MacArthur's command. Walker said he could not hold the Pusan Perimeter without the Marines in reserve, while MacArthur said he could not conduct the Inchon landings without the Marines. MacArthur responded by assigning the 17th Infantry Regiment, and later the 65th Infantry Regiment, would be added to Walker's reserves, but Walker did not feel the inexperienced troops would be effective. Walker felt the transition endangered the Perimeter at a time when it was unclear if it would hold. The brigade completed its merging with the 1st Marine Division in Japan and was deactivated as an independent unit on September 13.

When the 1st Marine Division subsequently arrived in Korea, he once again became Assistant Division Commander and took part in the landing at Inchon and operations in Northeast Korea. He was appointed to his present rank in January 1951. In March 1951, he returned to the United States, and assumed duties at Marine Corps Headquarters as Director of the Marine Corps Reserve.

Later life

Lieutenant General Edward A. Craig, Director of the Marine Corps Reserve prior to his retirement on 1 June 1951, and a veteran of more than thirty-three years of Marine Corps service, died on 11 December 1994 at his home in El Cajon, California, at the age of 98.

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Age 98