Thomas James Craghead, Jr

Gunners Mate 3rd Class
United States Navy
28 September 1946 - 04 February 1968
Covington, Virginia
Panel 37E Line 020



TF 116
Buddy Craghead

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Thomas James Craghead, Jr

5 Nov 2001

Thomas - or Buddy as he was known to his family - was a wonderful son. Always willing to help, obedient and loving. He was the older brother of two sisters who adored him and were devastated by his death.

He chose the Navy rather than be drafted into the army. His father served in the Navy in World War II and he wanted to follow in his Dad's footsteps. Unfortunately, he was chosen for a gunner's mate which put him in much danger, because as his boat and three others were returning to their port on the Mekong River they were ambushed. His boat got safely through, but the boat behind them was hit. They turned around to help it and in so doing a sniper got him in the head. He must have been a good shot because the bullet went in at the temple. They rescued the others and several were wounded, but Buddy was the only casualty.

Buddy was well thought of as I received numerous letters about his character and his faith. At first I was glad that they got the one that killed our Buddy. But after a few years, I had to ask forgiveness for those feelings -- after all, he was somebody's son also.

In 1994, his captain, Ron "Pappy" Hines, although not on the boat when Tom was killed, toured Texas with the Patrol boats letting the Nation know the Navy's part in the Vietnam war. It was at this time his father and I went to Houston and met Capt. Hines and a boat was dedicated in Tom's memory. He said that Tom was like a son to him. I would like to quote from a book Delta Devils, A Sailor's Story written by Ron Hines. I know his book has a copyright, but feel he would not mind my inserting this section in memory of Tom:

"Word raced through the barracks, the patrol was coming back with a casualty. The medics and stretcher bearers were there. From the Commanding Officer on down were there. The first boat tied up. A man was lying on deck and the faces of the crew told us the medics would not be needed, a Chaplain was.

"I knew Gunners Mate Craghead, a young man who was liked by everyone. He died from a single bullet wound in the forehead. An enemy marksman had been imported from Hanoi to try and demoralize our new river section. The marksman was killed by the patrol. His body and high powered scope equipped rifle was recovered. The ambush site was 'The Hanging Tree.'"

Even after all these years we love and miss Buddy. He would certainly be a lot of help to me now, as his father has Alzheimer's. But we know that because of his salvation through his faith in Jesus (and ours also), we will see and embrace him again.

This memorial is submitted with love and honor
for our only son, who gave his life for his country,
by his mother.

Edna Mae Craghead
600 Dolly Ann Drive, Covington, Va. 24426

10 November 2001

"Little Tommy". That's what all the relatives in New Orleans called Thomas James Craghead, Jr. He was a wonderful young man and we all looked forward to seeing him and his family when they'd come "home" to visit.

His Mother Edna was born and raised in Louisiana and she and her husband Thomas, Sr., raised their children all to be aware and proud of their Louisiana heritage.

Little Tommy always enjoyed his visits with us and we always had a wonderful time. One of our family summertime traditions was having a watermelon fight after eating, when on a picnic. Our parents would always warn us ahead of time to keep clean, but they knew better. They'd always end up in on it.

I remember those wonderful times with my "little" cousin. I remember playing hide and seek in Grandma's back yard and stage on her front porch and throwing rocks in the street.

He was a gentle young boy, who grew into a gentle young man and I'm so glad that he was in my life.

From his cousin
Damaris Bullock-Kampf

16 November 2001

Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of knowing Tommy Jr. I will however say that I have been blessed in knowing both his parents. I came to know them when working on the Alzheimers Unit, helping to care for Tommy Sr. My job was to help improve the quality of life to the veterans that had been stricken with this terrible disease. As the Activity Coordinator, I was blessed each and every morning with a beautiful smile from Tommy Sr. Upon visits from his wife Edna, those great big blue eyes of his would just sparkle! Those two are remarkable people. Before Tommy Sr. declined he would speak of his son (Tommy Jr.) with such pride and respect. Oh, how his face lit up... Tommy Jr. was just so blessed to have such wonderful parents. I have never met a woman as strong as his mother Edna. The faith she carries is remarkable. Such a beautiful family!!

From a friend,
Maggie Farris (Former VVCC)

08 Sep 2004

Photo provided by
Art Arrington

23 Oct 2004

I remember so much about Buddy and all of it was good. He was always kind and put the concerns of everyone else first. I remember bicycling together as kids. I remember when he finished his first tour of service in the Navy in Viet Nam and volunteered for a second tour of duty there. I asked him why and he answered that perhaps he would be able to spare a father, a husband from going as he was still single. I remember a beautiful story that his oldest sister wrote in her high school yearbook about the only brother she had and how his death was hurting her and her family. I remember the awful day when our family was telephoned to say that Buddy had been killed.

I remember my father and his brother going to identify Buddy when his body was returned a month after his death and how it hurt them.

My father loved Buddy as a son and Buddy loved him too. I read very recently a couple letters that I have saved that Buddy sent to me during his tenure in Viet Nam. I can't let them go. In one of the letters he mentioned how he would like to be back home helping my father in his business as he had done prior to enlisting in the Navy.

We were all better people for having had Buddy in our lives. His paternal grandfather was my Daddy's brother, thus Buddy's father is my first cousin and Buddy and I were second cousins and very close in age.

A lot of years have passed and his Mother, Edna Mae, has been a gracious lady during many moments of pain and tears. She reared her children very well. She is proud of all her children.

I am proud to be able to call these people my family and my friends.

From a cousin,
Gail Craghead Arthur

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his mother,
Edna Mae Craghead
600 Dolly Ann Dr., Covington, Va. 24426 
5 Nov 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 10/24/2004