Army Staff Sgt. Brian T. Craig
Died April 15, 2002 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
27, of Houston; assigned to the 710th Explosive Ordnance Detachment, San Diego, Calif.; killed in an accidental explosion of ordnance on April 15, 2002, in Afghanistan.
While serving in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sergeant Brian Craig would call his family at least once a week, and sometimes more often if there were reports of American casualties.
“For the last couple months, the phone would ring early Saturday morning,” said Barbara Craig, his mother. “He couldn’t tell us where he was or exactly what he was doing. But he would check in just to say ‘I am fine.’ “
When Arthur and Barbara Craig of Houston heard that four U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in Kandahar as they dismantled confiscated rockets, they worried. Soon their fears were confirmed.
Barbara Craig was home alone on Monday when an Army car pulled up to the Craig residence in north Harris County and two military men got out.
She was just returning from taking her husband to the airport for a missionary trip to the Ukraine.
“I had just gotten home and there they were,” Barbara Craig said, bracing at the pain of receiving the news alone.
She called her husband, Arthur, and said their youngest son was among the dead. He returned home.
“He laid down his life not only for his friends, but for people he didn’t even know, the Afghan people,” said Arthur Craig, pastor of the Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church in Spring Branch.
“Rather than using weapons of destruction, he was over there cleaning up the munitions left by past and present war. By doing that we are certain he saved the lives of many people – men, women and children,” Craig told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday.
Brian Craig, 27, joined the Army in 1993, weeks after he graduated from Klein Forest High School.
The soldier’s father was stationed in Thailand with the Air Force during the Vietnam War and was proud to see his son join the Army.
“We encouraged him to go to college but he was very determined to enlist,” he said. “He felt that was what God was calling him to do, and we gave him complete support.”
Army Staff Sergeant Brian Craig told his mother in a phone call from Afghanistan on Saturday that he wouldn’t be coming home on the date he mentioned in a letter he had just sent home.
“He said whatever date he had written in his letter was not going to be a good date,” Craig’s mother, Barbara, said Tuesday after learning her son had died along with three other U.S. soldiers when a rocket they were working on exploded in Afghanistan.
Military officials delivered news of Craig’s death to his parents’ Houston home Monday afternoon.
It was much different news than what Barbara Craig still expects to read in the letter her son sent, which hadn’t yet arrived at the family’s home Tuesday.
Craig has learned since her son’s death that he was talking with his sister about a way to surprise his parents when he returned home from Afghanistan, knowing both his mother and father wanted to be at the airport awaiting his battalion’s arrival in San Diego, California.
“He was using (his sister) as a go-between,” Craig said. “He was going to try and surprise us and come home to Houston.
“We were looking so forward to him coming home.”
The 27-year-old died while handling large-caliber rockets that had been confiscated from former Taliban ammunition dumps. A fifth soldier suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Army spokesman David Kuhns said Craig was part of a small army detachment out of Fort Lewis, Washington, which was housed at a Navy base in San Diego.
He said plans for a memorial service in San Diego this week were being discussed Tuesday.
“What has helped comfort us over these last few days is at least he was doing what he wanted to do and he enjoyed doing it,” Barbara Craig said of her son. “My heart just goes out to the other families because there are three other families that are hurting just like ours.”
Also killed were two soldiers from Kansas: Staff Sergeant Justin Galewski, 28 and Sergeant Jamie Maugans, 27; and a fourth from Colorado, Sergeant First Class Daniel Romero, 30.
“They went around and picked up the old bombs and rockets and took them to a safe place to detonate them so they would not harm other people,” the mother said. “His family is really proud of him and the job he did.
“He was our hero.”
Brian Craig’s parents had planned to meet him in San Diego when he returned from Afghanistan, but he wanted to surprise them by showing up on their Houston doorstep.
On Monday, the knock at the family’s door came from military officials, who brought word that the Army Staff Sergeant was one of four American soldiers killed in an accidental explosion in Kandahar.
Craig had been talking to his sister about keeping his parents from finding out when his battalion would arrive in San Diego so they wouldn’t go there to meet him.
“He was using her as a go-between,” said Craig’s mother, Barbara. “He was
going to try and surprise us and come home to Houston. We were looking so
forward to him coming home.”
Craig, 27, died handling large caliber rockets confiscated from former Taliban ammunition dumps. Also killed were Staff Sergeant Justin J. Galewski, 28, of Olathe, Kansas; Sergeant Jamie O. Maugans, 27, of Derby, Kansas; and Sergeant First Class Daniel A. Romero, 30, of Longmont, Colorado.
The accident is under investigation.