REAR ADMIRAL RICHARD STARR CRAIGHILL
U.S. NAVY, RETIRED
Born in Oakmont, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1909, Rear Admiral Craighill attended George Washington University for two years and was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in the U.S. Naval Academy's Class of 1932.
Sea Duty in the Gunnery and Engineering Departments of the battleship PENNSYLVANIA, the cruiser NEW ORLEANS, and the destroyer BADGER preceded instruction in the Naval Postgraduate School in 1938-1939, which was followed by engineering duty in the destroyers BLAKELEY and PATTERSON. He was on board the latter at the outbreak of World War II, and in May 1942 became the Executive Officer of the destroyer USS BLUE DD-387, which participated in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings (including the First Savo) and the capture and defense of Guadalcanal before she was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese on 22 August of that year.
He served for nine months as Assistant Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander SEVENTH Fleet, and in July 1943 assumed command of the USS DRAYTON DD-366, which participated in operations in Easter New Guinea, Bismark Archipelago, Western Carolines and Leyte during his period of command until December 1944. For meritorious service in December 1943 he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", and for conspicuous gallantry on December 5, 1944, received the Silver Star Medal.
In January 1945 he returned to the Naval Academy for duty as Secretary of the Academic Board and Aide to Superintendent, and after detachment in 1948 served as the Executive Officer of the USS LITTLE ROCK (*). He completed a course at the Naval War College in June 1950, then served two years as Director of Legislation in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department. At sea during the next two years, he first served as Operations and Training Officer on the Staff of Commander Battleships-Cruisers, Atlantic Fleet, and then as Commanding Officer of the USS SALAMONIE (AO-26) (10 Sep 53 - 04 Sep 54). (See Mystery Photo #5 for another USS Salamonie connection.
In June 1954 he returned to the Navy Department to serve as Head of the Joint Plans Section, Strategic Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He took command of the USS BREMERTON (CA-130) in October 1957 and in December 1958 was assigned as Head of the Joint and International Plans Branch, Strategic Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department. In June 1960, in the rank of Rear Admiral, he became Commandant of the Fifteenth Naval District, with headquarters at Fort Amador, Canal Zone, with the additional duty as Commander Panama Sector, Caribbean Sea Frontier. He was Commander Amphibious Group TWO from June 1962 to June 1963, the served as Director, Politico-Military Policy Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In July 1964 he reported as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Plans and Policy). He was awarded the Legion of Merit for "exceptionally meritorious conduct...." during the period June 1963 until August 1965.
In September 1965 he became Commander Caribbean Sea Frontier, with additional duties as Commandant of the Tenth Naval District and Commander U.S. Antilles Defense Command and served as such until relieved of active duty pending his retirement, effective July 1, 1961. "For exceptionally meritorious service from September 1965 to June 1967..." he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Legion of Merit.
(*) Commander Craighill relieved Captain Henry G. Moran on 13 May 1949 and assumed command of the LITTLE ROCK until the ship was decommissioned on 24 Jun 1949
Parents: James Rutherford Craighill (dec.) and Ellen Wattles (Lee) Craighill (dec.)
Wife: Virginia Drewry Jones of Norfolk, VA.
Children: Richard S., Jr., Virginia, and William S. Craighill
Education: Western High School, Washington DC (1926); George Washington University (2 years); U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD (B.S. 1932); Naval Postgraduate School, Annapolis (General Line, 1939); Naval War College, Newport, RI (1950).
Commissioned Ensign - 02 June 1932
Lieutenant (jg) - 02 June 1935
Lieutenant - 08 Dec 1939
Lieutenant Commander - 15 June 1942
Commander -01 Nov 1943
Captain - 01 January 1951
Rear Admiral - 01 April 1960
Entered Upper Half List of Rear Admirals - 01 October 1964
Decorations and Medals:
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit
Gold Star in lieu of Second Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 8 stars
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal (Asia Clasp)
National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 star
Silver Star Medal: "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the USS DRAYTON, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Southwest Pacific War Area on December 5, 1944. When his ship was subjected to enemy air attacks, Commander Craighill directed the delivery of a high volume of effective gun fire from all available weapons and, by his skillful shiphandling and courageous control of the fire damage, saved the DRAYTON from almost certain destruction and, at the same time, contributed materially to the defense of the Task Force..."
Rear Adm. Craighill died February 7, 1980 and is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery, Section 07-1710.
His wife Virginia died October 1, 1985 and is buried with him.
Admiral Craighill's picture was graciously provided by his son Richard S. Craighill, Jr.
US Naval Academy picture is from the USNA Class of 1932 Yearbook.
From U.S. Naval Academy
Class of 1932
RICHARD STARR CRAIGHILL
DICK began centering his interest on the Academy back in his early kaydet days at Western High. It wasn't until after spending two years at George Washington University that he finally decided to cast his lot with the rest of us. Since the day Dick arrived he has won the respect and admiration of all those with whom he has come in contact.
His favorite sports are football and wrestling, to which he has devoted most of his afternoons. Besides these he has spent many odd moments helping those who find it difficult to obtain the ever-necessary 2.5. Barring Saturdays and Sundays, and allowing for sleep and letter-writing, he spends a reasonable portion of what time is left on his studies.
Dick can hardly be classed as a Red Mike, for he seldom misses a weekend without mingling with his great weaknesses, the femmes.
Always a good wife, a true pal, and a well-informed classmate, Dick will remain always in the future as a most desired friend and a splendid shipmate.
Class Football; B-Squad 32; Wrestling, W32T; Class Basketball; Plebe Track; Company Representative; 2 Stripes.
Rear Admiral Robert Rutherford Craighill
Rear Admiral Richard S. Craighill is the younger brother of Rear Admiral Robert Rutherford Craighill a 1930 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1942 then Lt. Comdr. Robert R. Craighill was assistant gunnery officer on the USS Vincennes (CA-44) when that ship was lost on 09 August during the Battle of Savo Island. In 1945 Admiral Robert Craighill received the Navy Cross as commanding officer of the destroyer U.S.S. BROWN (DD-546) which shot down seven enemy aircraft near Okinawa.
After retiring from the Navy in 1999 Robert R. Craighill worked as a consultant for the Department of State and later served as Director of Development for St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Alexandria. He entered the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, from which he graduated in 1975 and was ordained an Episcopal priest.
Note: Ships lost in the Battle of Savo Island are considered to be resting in "Ironbottom Sound". This is the same area in which the USS Blue was lost on 22 August 1942, less than two weeks after the loss of the Vincennes. “Ironbottom Sound” is known formally as Savo Sound, the area of water between Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Florida Island of the Solomon Islands.
Crew Remembrances & Anecdotes
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