Corporal Craig USMC was brutally attacked and shot in the head by persons unknown in the early hours of December 2012 in the small town of Desert Hot Springs CA. He was stationed in 29 Palms USMC Base after returning in October 2012 from deployment to Afghanistan, where he worked as a machine gunner and went on over 300 combat missions including heavy participation in Operation Jaws.
Craig has been described as the "heart and soul" of his company, the Suicide Charley's of the 1/7, and he personifies the term "good Marine". He is selfless, modest, driven and extremely goal oriented.
Craig's Dad (John) and Mom (Vandi) were told he would not survive the day after he was shot, but he continues to defy the odds by improving steadily - albeit very slowly as is typical with this type of traumatic brain injury.
I think Cpl. Craig's father said it best "Craig's story IS a story of RECOVERY, HOPE and PERSEVERANCE. Craig's story IS the story of the MIRACULOUS POWER of GOD's HEALING GRACE, the personification of GOD's Love for us, his children."
Cpl. Craig and his family need to feel all the love, prayer & encouragement that all our Operation Prayers & Letters supporters can send them.
Cpl. Craig's mom, Vandi, tells us he continues to make steady improvements in all areas and his vision is noticeably better. In December 2012 things were very grim for Cpl. Craig but, as his mom put it so well, like any great Marine, instead of giving up, he decided to take on the challenge of SURVIVING!!!
It sounds as if Cpl. Craig's love of music has been extremely instrumental in his recovery. Once the headphones are on and the tunes are streaming, the grimace disappears from his face as he relaxes, and the restless movements and the tension in his body seem to disappear. At one point recently, he even sat up so straight and strong in his chair that his mom removed his protective helmet....which lifted the corporal's spirits even more!
Cpl. Craig passed his swallow test with flying colors, so now they are taking baby steps at introducing some foods to his diet again in supervised trials, with custard and Mom's homemade applesauce the first items on the menu. Apparently, the speech therapist had initially suggested "store bought applesauce," which nearly made Vandi laugh out loud! To put it in her words: "As if my son's first meal will be crap in a can! He will have homemade applesauce and vanilla custard!" And I say, YOU GO MOM!
Cpl. Craig is enjoying the correspondence he has received from all of you in his Operation Prayers and Letters packages. Keep writing and encouraging him in the days ahead, as in a few weeks he will undergo a surgical procedure on his skull. Cpl. Craig and his family all appreciate and value your support so much.
Earlier this month, Craig went through a reconstructive surgery to close the wound in his skull. Things appeared to be going very well and Vandi felt he had even become more verbal since the procedure, however, an infection set in and ultimately the peak implant had to be removed. :( The infection will take many months to heal, so it is a disappointing set back. However, Craig is very strong and is doing as well as can be expected. On a happy note, a wonderfully kind individual donated a van so Craig could be taken out and about in their home town. So, hopefully they are talking about the places they will go once Craig is feeling better and all healed from the infection. Continue to keep this Devil Dog in your prayers.
Cpl Craig underwent the second try of the cranioplasty on May 29th!!! The most recent news we have is that the surgery was very successful, however he is in some pain and very anxious. Hopefully he can get some rest and is able to relax a bit and have some food. Ok Prayer Warriors...do your thing! Let's send out some much needed thoughts & prayers for healing and comfort to Cpl. Craig and his family.
We wanted to share an update from Craig's mom:
"Marines are tough! Craig is doing MUCH better, thank you to all who have prayed & sent positive energy. We have started him on a nasal spray for allergies and his coughing has mostly disappeared. He seems to have a lot of "intention tremors" lately but by the same token, is also making many more attempts at purposeful movement and trying to talk. He has said no many times during stuff he hates. Best of all, he is getting more head control. But the spasms seem very painful so hopefully we can find a long term solution for that." Isn't this wonderful news!
Corporal Craig's Mom was kind enough to share an update on his progress. She writes:
"For only the second time since he was shot, Craig tried to reach for something!!!! He tried so hard to reach for one of his guitars!! I handed it to him (a big old electric acoustic job) and you should have seen how he pushed himself to try. He turned so red, his right arm was shaking like a leaf (he has intention tremors just like Parkinson's), and he was huffing and puffing. Honestly, he looked furious that he couldn't just start jamming out, so I said, "Hey, you got shot in the head with an AK47, what do you want? You're a miracle just holding that thing!" And you know what? He picked his head up and looked me right in the eye with just the total expression of "I did? I am?" It was incredible. A lot of the time, Craig seems to be in a kind of daze and it's really hard to know how much he's aware or "himself." But then there are these incredible moments when he is soooo present and aware it's unnerving. This kid is just one tough dude.....head to heel, a rod of steel. All Marine, he doesn't know anything else except to never quit!" Update
: 11-13-14 from Cpl. Craig's Mom, Vandi:
Craig is still ill and in the hospital. He's in getting a lumbar puncture to pull some spinal fluid, the last place an infection could be hiding besides in his bones. I hope they find something soon, and it's easy to treat. My boy has been through too much! Update
I am very pleased to report to you all that Corporal Craig and his family celebrated his 2nd ALIVE DAY earlier this month!
Craig is making steady progress in his recovery from a surgery in October to flatten his feet. Craig is out of his casts and able to wear shoes for the first time since April of 2013!
Craig's mom told me about a recent physical therapy session he had as well. Working together, his parents were able to get him to sit up right on the side of the bed with his flattened feet flush on the floor and press a little of his weight on to his feet. They also helped him do some side push-up by leaning his body over sideways where he would have to push himself back up straight with his arm.
Vandi, Craig's mom, said he was "crushing it with his left arm - you know, the one that was supposed to be paralyzed!" That's AMAZING! He was also able to hold his head up for quite some time, even catching himself as his chin started to move forward to his chest.
Keep up the good work Corporal Craig! We will continue to pray for healing for you.
UPDATE: April 16, 2015
A nice update from CPL Craig's mom today:
"I'm sure our faithful followers will remember how Craig used not to be able to hold his head up at all, and would always have his head flopped to the side? He still presses to the right when he is having "intention hyper tone", or muscles spasms caused by abnormal brain signals when he tries to move himself, but lately he's been getting more and more head control. This morning he's been able to turn his head to look at me without having any spasms, and even is still sitting up for the hated breathing treatment mask! Progress has been so slow, but it never stops and my Marine never ever gives up."
Cpl. Craig is another year older! According to his mom, "24 years ago he came into the world like the gentleman he is -- short six hour labor with only three pushes, at the very civilized hour of 5:08 in the evening. He was, is and always will be the most beautiful person I have ever seen. Thank you Lord, thank you for the blessing of Craig."
Just a little news in CPL Craig's corner of the world...his mom reports: "Today for the first time since the attack, Craig is going on an outing without Mom and Dad. He's going to the movies with his respite nurse Brandon. I'm a little bit nervous, mostly about the driving part, but I'm also happy for Craig - - he smiled soooo big when I told him the plan for today! And when I asked him what he thought the parents would be up to he said, pretty clearly, "golf" - - yep! We sure are!!!"
CPL Craig's mom shared an exciting update about Craig's progress: Craig has "graduated" to carbonated liquids!!! He's having a little coca-cola today in speech therapy. he has a machine attached to his neck called a VitalStim, it uses an electrical current to stimulate the muscles in his throat. It has really helped strengthen those atrophied muscles. He also was able to resist being shoved over from a seated position during PT time today. He's just doing great today!!! Proud Parents!!!
Keep up the great work CPL Craig! OOORAH
Date added to program: 12/15/2013
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