Everett D. Craycraft on his 90th birthday walking among the warbirds hanging in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Smith Wilcox.
Every day The National WWII Museum honors the achievements and courage of the Greatest Generation for future generations. On March 9, 2014, we were especially thrilled to have WWII veteran, Everett D. Craycraft, and his family celebrating his 90th birthday with us at the Museum over 70 years after he began fighting in the war that changed the world.
Born in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in 1924, Craycraft grew up the oldest of seven boys during the Great Depression. In September 1942 when he was 18 years old, he answered his patriotic call and enlisted in the US Navy in order to play his part in protecting our nation’s liberty.
After boot camp training in the Great Lakes and placement in Washington at Sand Point Naval Air Station and in Bremerton, Craycraft entered the most frightful part of service—the combat zone. He served for 15 months in the South Pacific on the USS Natoma Bay CVE 62, a small aircraft carrier which was awarded six bronze battle stars and 2 unit citation badges. He was then assigned to Service Division 101 operating an LCM, a 50 ft boat made by Higgins Industries in New Orleans. They served Admiral Halsey’s carrier fleet at Leyte Gulf. Towards the close of the war, he returned stateside and served as a Ship’s Rigger at the San Diego Naval Base.
His service to our country did not end with our nation’s victory though. Craycraft continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until 1952 and went back to school to learn Topographic Drafting on the GI Bill while he started his family. Following school, he began working for a large oil company moving to six different states where he last worked in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Today, Craycraft is retired and living in Slidell, Louisiana. Still active in learning about and honoring the members of his generation, he enjoys visiting the Museum to be reminded of his generation’s heroic accomplishments. He favors the majestic views of the warbirds in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and the familiar models of the types of vessels in which he served that are on display throughout the Museum. We are happy to be a place for Craycraft and other WWII veterans to be honored and to reminisce about their great accomplishments. Thank you for your service, Everett D. Craycraft, and best wishes to you in your years to come!
- Craycraft on his 90th birthday walking among the warbirds hanging in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
- Everett D. Craycraft during WWII in 1944. Photo courtesy of Deborah Craycraft Stevens.
- Everett D. Craycraft's brick on our Road to Victory located in the atrium of the Museum's Louisiana Memorial Pavilion.
As part of the ongoing preparations for the new US Freedom Pavilion: Boeing Center, The National WWII Museum is in the process of restoring a P-51 Mustang that will be painted with the “Red Tails” markings of the 332nd Fighter Group, a unit of the now-celebrated Tuskegee Airmen.
Museum Trustees Jeffrey Carter and Todd Ricketts are leading the charge to raise the funds required to complete the restoration.
Carter recently posted this appeal on his blog:
George Lucas is releasing a film soon about the Tuskegee Airman. I cannot wait to see it. It’s a fabulous American story that is even more compelling because of the racism that the Tuskegee Airman had to overcome at home, and in the Army of their country. The National WWII Museum started undertaking a project over a year ago to celebrate the contribution of the Tuskegee Air Corps to World War Two. My fellow board member, Todd Ricketts, and I are heading up this project. That project needs your help.
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Donate now to support the restoration project.
The Museum partnered with New Orleans-based Jeep dealership Bergeron Auto and Operation Homefront Louisiana on a three-month promotion to benefit Louisiana’s current service members, wounded warriors and their families who reside in the state. First manufactured in 1945, the Jeep became an icon of WWII. Known for their dependability, Jeeps served our troops in every theater of the war and were used by each of the Allied countries in the fight for freedom and democracy.
On December 17, the final day of the promotion, Bergeron Auto presented a $15,000 donation check to the Museum as well as a check for $7,000 to Operation Homefront Louisiana.
We’d like to thank Bergeron Auto for the generous donation that will help us continue to tell the story of the brave men and women who fought for our country during WWII.
Learn more about how you can help a service member and their family by visiting www.operationhomefront.net.