Rank and organization: Private, First Class, U.S. Army, Company G, 382d
Infantry, 96th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Hen Hill, Okinawa, Ryukyu
Islands, 31 May 1945.
Entered service at: Santa Ana, Calif.
G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 1945.
Citation: He was a rifleman
when his platoon spearheaded an attack on Hen Hill, the tactical position
on which the entire Naha-Shuri-Yonaburu line of Japanese defense on Okinawa,
Ryukyu Islands, was hinged. For 12 days our forces had been stalled, and
repeated, heavy assaults by 1 battalion and then another had been thrown
back by the enemy with serious casualties. With 5 comrades, Pfc. Craft
was dispatched in advance of Company G to feel out the enemy resistance.
The group had proceeded only a short distance up the slope when rifle and
machinegun fire, coupled with a terrific barrage of grenades, wounded 3
and pinned down the others. Against odds that appeared suicidal, Pfc. Craft
launched a remarkable 1-man attack. He stood up in full view of the enemy
and began shooting with deadly marksmanship wherever he saw a hostile movement.
He steadily advanced up the hill, killing Japanese soldiers with rapid
fire, driving others to cover in their strongly disposed trenches, unhesitatingly
facing alone the strength that had previously beaten back attacks in battalion
strength. He reached the crest of the hill, where he stood silhouetted
against the sky while quickly throwing grenades at extremely short range
into the enemy positions. His extraordinary assault lifted the pressure
from his company for the moment, allowing members of his platoon to comply
with his motions to advance and pass him more grenades. With a chain of
his comrades supplying him while he stood atop the hill, he furiously hurled
a total of 2 cases of grenades into a main trench and other positions on
the reverse slope of Hen Hill, meanwhile directing the aim of his fellow
soldiers who threw grenades from the slope below him. He left his position,
where grenades from both sides were passing over his head and bursting
on either slope, to attack the main enemy trench as confusion and panic
seized the defenders. Straddling the excavation, he pumped rifle fire into
the Japanese at pointblank range, killing many and causing the others to
flee down the trench. Pursuing them, he came upon a heavy machinegun which
was still creating havoc in the American ranks. With rifle fire and a grenade
he wiped out this position. By this time the Japanese were in complete
rout and American forces were swarming over the hill. Pfc. Craft continued
down the central trench to the mouth of a cave where many of the enemy
had taken cover. A satchel charge was brought to him, and he tossed it
into the cave. It failed to explode. With great daring, the intrepid fighter
retrieved the charge from the cave, relighted the fuse and threw it back,
sealing up the Japs in a tomb. In the local action, against tremendously
superior forces heavily armed with rifles, machineguns, mortars, and grenades,
Pfc. Craft killed at least 25 of the enemy; but his contribution to the
campaign on Okinawa was of much more far-reaching consequence for Hen Hill
was the key to the entire defense line, which rapidly crumbled after his
utterly fearless and heroic attack.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)