Lt Colonel David Blair Craig - US Army (Retired)- St. Augustine, Fl
Summary of education/training:
- High School, Summit High School, Summit NJ 1962.
- College: BS from Rutgers
- The State University, New Brunswick, NJ, 1968. Master of Arts, Political Science, University of Hawaii, 1977
- Graduate of Airborne training May 1965
- Ranger training April 1969
- U.S. Army Command and General Staff College June 1980
- Defense Language Institute – Korean language 1981
- Republic of Korean Army Command and General Staff College 1982
- Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management 1984
- 1964-1965: Enlisted in U.S. Army Reserves, 11th Special Forces
- 1968-1969: Commissioned in 1968 as a 2nd LT as the Distinguished Military Graduate of Rutgers University. Graduated Armor Branch Training 1968, then Ranger school 1969.
- 1969-1971 : Served back-to-back combat tours 1969 -1970 in Del ta Troop 2-17 Cavalry 101st Airborne Division as a 2nd LT then 1st LT 3rd Platoon Leader and then extended for a second tour to become the Troop Commanding Officer. Delta Troop was the primary ground force used to exploit on the ground what was observed by the Squadron’s aerial reconnaissance assets. Delta Troop’s mission differed from the Infantry in that Delta worked in small elements, inserted by combat assault, often rappelling from helicopters 100 feet thru the triple canopy jungle directly into known enemy locations, to determine actual enemy strength by engaging or capturing them and/or their equipment and documents.
- 1971-88 Instructor at the U.S. Army Armor School in Cavalry Operation under BG George Patton III. Commander of Alpha Troop 3-4 Cavalry for 2 years, and then Assistant G-3, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii. Graduate student at University of Hawaii, awarded MA degree in Political Science – Asian Studies. Instructor at University of Hawaii, Reserve Officer Training. US. Army Command and General Staff College, Kansas. Presidio of Monterey Language School -Korean. Republic of Korea Command and General Staff College taught in Korean. Aide to Lieutenant General James Vaught, the Commanding General of the Combined Field Army Korea. Korea Desk Officer for the Commander in Chief of the Pacific. Medically retired July 1988 as a Lieutenant Colonel Regular U. S. Army Officer as result of bilateral necrosis of both hips.
- Post-retirement – Hawaii 1988~2006: Blair’s service continued to military members, Veterans, and his community; U.S.O. Hawaii – Executive Director, serving 14,000 Veterans, Retirees and Active-Duty military and their family members each year at 3 facilities in the State. Hawaii State Civil Defense: Branch Chief for Operations responsible to plan for and respond to any natural or manmade emergency/disaster to protect the 5,000,000 residents and visitors to the State – on call 24/7 to activate and lead the response. Pacific Century Financial Corporation -Assistant Vice President and Manager of the Disaster Preparedness Department, responsible for corporate disaster planning, response, and business resumption for the largest financial institution in the Pacific with over 125 bank branches and 450 ATMs from Singapore to Nassau. Homeland Security – Write and integrate the “Hawaii Homeland Security Medical
Response Plan for Hawaii” for a deadly natural incident or terrorist release of chemical, biological or radiological agents impacting greater than ten percent of the population. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)- Principal Investigator and Project Manager to Hawaii Synergy to develop applications and user friendly products utilizing remote sensing data from NASA and other satellites (i.e. Landsat 7, ASTER, MODIS, IKONOS) to assist the disaster management communities of the 43 nations in the Pacific Region. HQ Pacific Command (USPACOM) Senior Disaster and Regional Security Analyst to create and maintain disaster/terrorism websites on the Asia Pacific Area Network serving 43 nations in the Asia-Pacific region providing resources and professional information related to disasters and consequence management. Department of Defense Pacific Theater Military Exercises (2004-2006) Senior Controller/ Subject Matter Expert for over 35 global Tier 1 exercises (Team Spirit, U1chi Focus Lens, U1chi Freedom Guardian, RSO&I, Key Resolve, Yama Sakura, Pacific Guard, War Fighter. Talisman Saber, and Cobra Gold). Responsible as part of the exercise staff to conduct global combined/ joint/ total force command post theater level exercises for U.S forces with Pacific Area nations, focused on force flow (TPFDD) and the decision making process of bilateral or multilateral operational level headquarters. As part of those exercises Blair worked focus areas of Political Military, Civi1 Military Operations, Information Operations, and OPFOR/ Special Operations.
- Post-retirement – Florida 2006.2023: Immediately after moving to Florida in 2006, Blair was hired by the F1orida National Guard as a contractor/consultant in the Joint Force Headquarters J3. In recognition of his many contributions he was awarded the Florida Commendation Medal by the Governor of the State of Florida; Contractor, HQ Florida National Guard (September 2006 to 2015) Joint Service Program Manager Future Operations and Contingency Plans, writing contingency and operational plans for integration and interagency planning with other State and Federal agencies. Department of Defense Pacific Theater Military Exercises (2006-2022) – Senior Controller I Subject Matter Expert for over 35 global Tier 1 exercises. Responsib1e as part of the exercise staff to conduct global level exercises for U.S forces with Pacific Area nations, focused on force flow (TPFDD) and the decision-making process of bilateral or multilateral operational level headquarters. As part of those exercises Blair worked Po1itical Military, Civil Military Operations, Information Operations, and OPFOR/Special Operations assignments.
Nominee’s Advocacy on behalf of Veterans:
- After relocating from Hawaii to St. Augustine, FL, Blair transferred his long-standing Elks Lodge affiliation to become a member of St. Augustine Elks Lodge 829, and shortly thereafter joined the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1084. He has also been involved with activities in other Veterans focused organizations: Disabled American Veterans. Association of the United States Army, and the Marine Memorial Association. He actively participates now with the following agencies/programs:
- Chief of Staff of the Army s Retired Soldiers Council. Blair serves as a member of this Council which has as its mission statement to:
*Provide advice to the Chief of Staff Army regarding recommendations regarding vital issues and concerns of retired soldiers and their families. * Assess how Anny programs/initiatives may affect the retired community. *Strengthen communication between Active Army, Reserves, National Guard, and the retired community.
- Statutory Volunteer Casualty Assistance Office: Lt Col (ret) Craig was selected pursuant to 10 U.S.C. – 1588 Army Regulation 608-1 Army Community Service and AR 638-8 Army Casualty Program – to provide limited Casualty Assistance to Army retiree widows and widowers as requested via the Casualty Assistance Center, Ft. Stewart, Georgia.
- Reunion of Vietnam Veterans; When our time in Vietnam was over, some of us went back home, some of us remained in the military, and some never came home at all. In 2001, working with his former Platoon Sergeant retired CSM Jerry Trew, they located over 175 members of their unit from Vietnam, 2-17 Cavalry, via internet searches to create a database of contact information. They then planned, organized, and executed a Delta Troop Reunion in Branson, MO, and invited all the Troopers and family to attend a 3-day reunion. Eighty-seven Veterans, some with family members, attended. The success of this gathering and sharing of so many memories resulted in the decision to have a similar reunion every 2 years. The upcoming one will be in Nashville, TN, May 2023. Each reunion begins by reading the names of the 32 Delta Troopers who died in combat during 3 years in Vietnam 1969-71, and the 54 Troopers who have died at home in the 52 years since the 101st Division left Vietnam. It is a symbolic way to include them in the gathering – a gathering of men who shared the special bond of1ife, and death.
- Honor the Fallen~ Blair has a personal commitment to the men and their families with whom he served in combat. It was their valor, teamwork, and looking after each other that enabled them to conduct some of the most diverse and dangerous mission during the
Vietnam War. Since 2002, Blair has cared for the departed Troopers, often paying for funeral flowers and if possible, personally flying to their funerals or arranging for other Delta Troopers to travel to be present at the funerals. Through the auspices of the DoD he provides each surviving spouse a presentation of the DoD Vietnam War Commemoration Certificate of Honor along with a Blue Star Lapel Pin.
- Veterans Treatment Court (V1C), St. Johns and Putnam County, Florida. Blair was one of the original “plank-holder” Mentors in January 2017 and continues to be one. Each Veteran “Participant” is assigned a volunteer Veteran “Mentor” to assist as a friend/battle buddy to that Veteran Participants who has been arrested, often due to anger management issues, substance abuse, or PTSD. Participants will spend from 1 to 5 years completing the VTC program. Mentors stay with their Participant every step of the way to completion of the program and reintegration back as a valuable contributor to their family, and our community. In the past 6 years, Blair has been the Mentor to encourage, support and guide 11 Veterans through their program. Blair does this as a personal acknowledgement of the Veterans service to our Country, providing them an alternative to 1-5 years in jail by completing the Veterans Treatment Court.
- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084, St. Johns County. Blair was involved in the coordination and early work leading to the Chapter’s charter in 2013 . In 2017 Blair was elected Vice President and focused on supporting the Chapter President’s vision for community involvement and growth, as well as planning and executing fundraising events. Due to these events in the ensuing four years the funds available for support of Veterans programs and community organizations grew from less than $1,000 to as much as $12,000 a year.
- “Veterans in the Classroom,. was initiated in 2012 by Blair following conversations held with the St. Johns County School District. The goal of this program is to provide an in classroom presence in High Schools related to “Civics”. The specific topics suggested by the School District were “Supporting the Constitution,” “Veterans/ Memorial Day,” and “Valor.” Initially Blair did all the presentations by himself to support Teacher requests for in-class discussion of the topics with the students. In 2016, due to demand, Blair fanned 5-7 groups of 2 Veterans each which would support the request for presence and discussion in individual High School classrooms. Each year (minus during closure of schools due to COVID), those presentations were delivered to approximately 1700-2200 students a year. In response to the onslaught of COVID restrictions, Blair arranged for the established presentations to be videotaped and distributed to the classroom via the School District office. With the waning of COVID, Blair will lead a team in late March 2023 back to three St Johns County schools (8 classrooms) to discuss the Medal of Honor and its civilian equivalents. The 2024 school year programs will be “Support the Constitution in September”, “Veterans” in November, and “Valor” in March.
- Vietnam War 5()1-h Year Commemoration. Blair responded to the call of the Department of Defense to support the national recognition of this program by organizing community events honoring Vietnam Veterans and their presence in our communities. In 2014, while working for the Florida National Guard (FLNG), he received permission to hold a “Command Retreat” of the FLNG’s Army and Air Guard officiated by the Adjutant General, complete with a Firing Battery Salute and the military ceremony oflowering our National Flag. Blair invited area Veterans to participate as an integral unit of the ceremony’s formation and be recognized by the Adjutant General for their service to our Nation. In 2015 Blair again worked with the FLNG to create and emplace a bronze plaque on their Parade Field commemorating the War in Vietnam. As part of that ceremony, he arranged with the American Embassy in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to send him soil from Vietnam to be scattered on the Parade Field as a principal part of the plaque dedication ceremony on November 10, 2015, as a salute to Veterans Day.
Awards and Honors:
- Lt Col Craig was awarded the Silver Star Medal, 2 Bronze Star Medals, 2 Defense Meritorious Service Medals, Meritorious Service Medal, 3 Air Medals, 2 Anny Commendation Medals, National Defense Service Ribbon, 6 Vietnam Campaign Medals, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Korea Defense Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and 5 Anny Overseas Service Ribbons. His military skill badges include the Combat Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.
- Blair is the recipient of the following Civilian recognition and awards: The State of Hawaii Governor’s Commendation Medal in 1975 for service to the Hawaii National Guard and Reserves. The State of Florida Governor’s National Guard Commendation Medal for service as the Civilian Military Support project officer for the Joint Operations Plan Revision in April 2008.
- Invited to be Guest Speaker on 16 March 2023 for the 50-100 incarcerated Vietnam Veterans at the Union County Correctional Institution as part of their recognition of National Vietnam War Veteran’s Day. Blair has become a welcome guest of the incarcerated Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1080 during the past year. He recently participated in one of their Intervention Sessions with Duval Veterans Treatment Court Participants as an evaluation of its value for potential adoption by the St Johns Veterans Treatment Court, On another occasion he participated in their 2022 Memorial Day remembrance. Fo11owing that program several incarcerated veterans asked for an essay he authored many years ago titled “Remember them – The Things ]hey Carried In Vietnam.”‘ This essay was read to the audience by the Keynote Speaker for that ceremony as closing of his speech. The emotional impact of that essay was strong for all “They Carried Each Other!”
- Elected 2017 as the Vice President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Leo C. Chase Chapter 1084. During his tenure Chapter 1084 was awarded the 2017 Florida State Council Newsletter of the Year,” 2018 Florida State Council “Chapter of the Year,” and 2019 National VV A “National Membership Growth Award.” He was re-elected annually and continued to serve in that position until 202 l.
- Blair will be the guest speaker in November, 2023, to the Daughters of the American Revolution. His topic will be “When Veterans Return Home -Expectations and Reality.”
Nomination Considerations :
- Responsible: Blair is deeply engaged in every organization he joins, whether specifically veteran-associated or community-related. He has dedicated his adult life to service, whether that be active-duty military, government offices in Hawaii and Florida, or to his direct involvement with so many veteran organizations. He has held office in VV A-1084 as Vice President, Elks Lodge 829 as a Trustee, and the Florida National Guard Officers Club as Vice-President to mention a few.
- Available: Blair never says “‘No.” He is always available to lead or to assist with tasks or planning events within the county. Some of those events involve physical participation, for example, loading and transporting household goods and furniture for homeless veterans as they find housing. Or, as a planner for a large-scale event such as major fund raisers for VV A-1084, Veterans Counci I St Johns County, Home Again St Johns, or The Sertoma Club charities to name a few.
- Thoughtful: Blair’s thoughtfulness is most apparent in his active participation in the St Johns and Putnam County Veterans Treatment Court. He was one of the first four Mentors to be selected back in 2017. As previously mentioned, Blair personally supported and guided 11 Veterans to completion of their unique treatment program. He was also active with all Veterans and Mentors in the program, up to a steady docket of 36 veterans as the program progresses. He recruits, coaches, and assists other Mentors, as well as interacting with all Participants in the program.
- Dependable: Blair is always there and available as needed. You need a plan, you ask Blair. If you need a hand, Blair is always available. You want some advice, Blair always has a palette of ideas. He continues to serve. Lt Col (ret) David Blair Craig is an inspirational leader who has dedicated his adult life to serve his soldiers, veterans of all eras, and their families. He has a distinguished military history and a fruitful civilian career that is worthy of selection to the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. I am proud and honored to nominate him to join the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
Major General James O. Eifert ~
- I offer my highest possible endorsement for Blair Craig’s induction into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame. I value the importance and prestige of selection into this esteemed group of patriots, and am confident that Blair will represent the Hall of Fame with distinction.
- Blair’s military career speaks for itself, but his work after his time in the service is truly inspirational and worthy of note. In 2014 he worked with the Department of Defense and the Florida National Guard to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. He organized a ”Command Retreat” complete with Vietnam veterans from the surrounding area to he honored by the Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard. Once again, in 2015, he worked with us to emplace a bronze plaque on our Parade Field to commemorate the War in Vietnam. He went a step further and worked with the U.S. Embassy to send soil from Vietnam to be scattered on the field as a tribute to those who served.
- Blair’s dedication to duty and his love for his fellow veterans did not end upon his leaving the service. He continues to steadfastly honor his brothers and sisters in arms in a way that genuinely recognizes their sacrifices. It is truly selfless when someone commits their lives to the exhortation of others, and this is the life that Blair Craig has led. It is with my great
respect and admiration for him that I ask you to induct this great American Soldier and Floridian into the Florida Veterans; Hall of Fame.
Major general(Retired) Raymond F. Rees~
It is my honor to submit this memorandum in support of the nomination of Blair Craig to the
Florida Veterans• Hall of Fame.
I have known Blair 54 years. The platoon leader I knew in combat in Vietnam took care of his soldiers and Jed them courageously regardless of daunting circumstances. He has continued to do so for over 5 decades in and out of uniform.
His personal sense of responsibility and initiative led him to partner with his former platoon sergeant. Jerry Trew, to track down and contact over J 75 surviving members of our Vietnam unit. After 30 years of separation this was not easy. Suffice it to say, their efforts were a huge success. That tedious work led to a reunion in 200 l and it has been repeated every 2 years since. The closure provided to these comrades in arms ha.~ been amazing to witness. Veterans, family members, all have been the recipients of the good work of Blair and Jerry.
Unfortunately, Jerry has passed but Blair continues the work. Blair assures that the reunions continue by lending a helping hand and guidance to the reunion committee. More significantly, he keeps close tabs on the indiv1dual veterans, their health, their economic well. being. and their fami1ies. It is quite evident that his respect and affection for their combat service motivates him deeply. It is Blair who is the central hub for information. He shoulders the most trying burden of all when a trooper is reported to have passed. He assures that there is a member of the unit in attendance at memorials, and flowers are presented. Many times it is Blair who attends and assures that the survivors receive the DOD Vietnam War Commemoration Certificate of Honor.
Florida is fortunate to have had Blair Craig adopt the state as his home and place of business. The character that he has demonstrated in taking care of the surviving members of our Vietnam Cavalry Troop is evident every day in the work he performs for veterans throughout the state. His good work truly reflects great credit on the State of Florida and the manner in which veterans are honored from the Panhandle to the Keys.
Joseph McDermett, Director St. Johns County Veteran affairs~
I am honored and pleased to offer my support of David “Blair” Craig’s nomination into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. Mr. Craig has championed a program in 2012 with St. Johns County School District to offer support and guidance in initiating the program of veterans in the classroom. The goal of this program is to provide an in-classroom presence of veterans covering topics of the Constitution, the military’ s role in the government, and the importance of days like Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Mr. Craig is still active in this program and is an integral part of the continued success for over 10 years.
Currently Mr. Craig is an active mentor in the St. Johns and Putnam County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). He was one of the first mentors to be selected when the VTC was established in 2017. He has mentored 11 veterans offering support and guidance for each of the participants successful completion of their unique treatment pro gram. He continuously offers support and guidance to his fellow mentors~ assuring the best out come possible for all participants -in VTC.
Mr. Craig’s continued devotion and commitment to the veterans in our community has been exemplary. The nomination that has been submitted to Florida Veterans Hall of Fame will undoubtably explain why :Mr. Craig would be so deserving of -induction into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame.