Robert Craig’s Medal of Honor

For his heroic service as an infantry officer during the Allied invasion of Sicily, Second Lieutenant Robert Craig was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on July 11, 1943.

Robert Craig, Second Lieutenant, US Army, 1941, United States Army photo. 

Robert Craig was born in Scotland on June 7, 1919, to William Craig Sr. and Jane Montgomery Craig. In September 1923, the Craig family, including siblings William Craig Jr. and Jane M. Craig, immigrated to the United States and settled in Toledo, Ohio. As a young man, Robert Craig enjoyed working on cars and radios and played several sports including baseball, football, and golf. 

In February 1941, Craig joined the US Army, and on December 1, 1941, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. The following month, he left for Europe as part of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and served during the Allied invasion of Sicily. Codenamed Operation HUSKY, the initial invasion between July 9–10, 1943, included both amphibious and airborne assaults. The HUSKY campaign lasted until August 17, 1943.  

During the early stages of the campaign, on July 11, 1943, near Favoratta, Sicily, Lieutenant Craig and Corporal James E. Hill voluntarily left their position and moved toward an enemy machine gun nest that had halted the advance of their company. Enemy troops soon spotted Craig and concentrated their fire directly on him. Despite this, Craig continued through heavy machine gun fire, reached the enemy position uninjured, and killed three crewmen. 

Shortly thereafter, as his company continued to advance, Craig and his platoon encountered heavy fire from approximately 100 enemy soldiers. Craig ordered his men to withdraw to the cover of a nearby hillcrest before charging the enemy by himself to draw their fire. When he was within 25 yards, Craig killed five and wounded three enemy soldiers from a kneeling position before he too was fatally wounded. 

After the incident, Hill reportedly stated that “in a gesture typical of him, Lieutenant Craig put the safety of his men before his own.” Craig’s heroic actions enabled his platoon to safely reach the cover of the hillcrest, for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on May 26, 1944. His Medal of Honor Citation reads in full: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, on 11 July 1943, at Favoratta, Sicily. Second Lt. Craig voluntarily undertook the perilous task of locating and destroying a hidden enemy machine gun which had halted the advance of his company. Attempts by three other officers to locate the weapon had resulted in failure, with each officer receiving wounds. Second Lt. Craig located the gun and snaked his way to a point within 35 yards of the hostile position before being discovered. Charging headlong into the furious automatic fire, he reached the gun, stood over it, and killed the three crew members with his carbine. With this obstacle removed, his company continued its advance. Shortly thereafter, while advancing down the forward slope of a ridge, 2d Lt. Craig and his platoon, in a position devoid of cover and concealment, encountered the fire of approximately 100 enemy soldiers. Electing to sacrifice himself so that his platoon might carry on the battle, he ordered his men to withdraw to the cover of the crest while he drew the enemy fire to himself. With no hope of survival, he charged toward the enemy until he was within 25 yards of them. Assuming a kneeling position, he killed five and wounded three enemy soldiers. While the hostile force concentrated fire on him, his platoon reached the cover of the crest. Second Lt. Craig was killed by enemy fire, but his intrepid action so inspired his men that they drove the enemy from the area, inflicting heavy casualties on the hostile force.”

Second Lieutenant Robert Craig is buried with his parents in Toledo Memorial Park in Sylvania, Ohio. The Craig Memorial Bridge in Toledo is named after him. 


Jennifer Popowycz, PhD

Jennifer Popowycz, PhD is the Leventhal Research Fellow at The National WWII Museum. Her research focuses on the Eastern Front and Nazi occupation policies in Eastern Europe in World War II. 

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