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Lieutenant Colonel Jay A. Craig (beloved brother, husband, father and grandfather) entered into God’s Kingdom on 24 October 2023 after a long battle with cardiac and diabetic issues. He was born to the late Bertus Martin and Pauline (Gilmore) Craig on October 23, 1946 in Morgantown.
Growing up in Kingwood, Jay graduated from Kingwood High School. Later he received an associate degree at Potomac State College and a bachelor's degree in journalism from West Virginia University. Upon graduation from WVU, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant through the Army ROTC.
After attending Armored Officer training at Fort Knox, Airborne Training at Ft. Benning, and Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird, he reported for duty in Vietnam. For his service Jay was awarded the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and Vietnam Staff Honor Medal First Class as well as various service and campaign awards. His next assignment would be as Order of Battle Officer for the 8th Infantry Division (Airborne) in Germany. After receiving his Regular Army Commission in the Military Police Corps, Captain Craig was reassigned as Commander Company C, 385th Military Police Battalion in Augsburg, Germany.
While serving overseas he remained in touch with a young lady (Anita Snyder) whom he had met before going to Vietnam. She was teaching at Valley High School in Masontown, WV. Their friendship grew and when home on leave from Germany, he asked her if she wanted to go jewelry shopping with him. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June of 2023.
Jay served for 23 years in the United States Army. He went from Germany to Ft. Anniston, Al for the MP Advanced Course. From there he was selected for advanced schooling. He completed his M.A. Degree at Marshall University, Huntington WV, in Journalism. Public Affairs was his second specialty, and he served almost 12 years in that capacity. After Marshall, he was assigned to Ft. Sheridan, IL, with the Army Recruiting Command. While there, he was the liaison for the Army in the production of the “Be All You Can Be” commercials and advertisements. Ft. Bragg was next as he served as the Deputy Provost Marshall for the 82nd Airborne Division. He loved that position. He acquired his jumpmaster wings and loved the thrill of the many jumps he completed. While in this assignment, he was appointed to be the officer in charge of security for moving the Carter Administration’s official files from Washington, DC to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Plains, GA.
He then went to Ft. Lee, VA, as the Public Affairs Officer. Following that assignment, he was sent on an unaccompanied tour to Korea. He was the 2nd Infantry Division Provost Marshall at Camp Casey, on the demilitarized zone of North and South Korea. His claim to fame at the time was his being in an auto accident with country music star Tanya Tucker when a MP Jeep transporting her from a USO show was struck by another vehicle. After Korea he was assigned to the HHC I Corps, at Ft. Lewis, WA as the public affairs officer. His immediate commander was Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. The commanding general for I Corps was Gen. Colin Powell. When Gen. Powell came to Ft. Lewis, Jay arranged his press conferences and wrote his speeches. His final assignment was in Alexandria, VA as the Director of Public Affairs for the Defense Nuclear Agency handling freedom of information requests and Greenpeace inquiries.
Upon his honorable retirement from active duty, Jay pivoted to education as he returned home to the West Virginia hills to provide guidance to the youth of Preston County. Jay advocated for and subsequently established the Junior ROTC program at Preston High School where he proudly served as the Senior JROTC instructor for 13 years. He was very proud to lead his cadets to a national championship, and multiple state championships in rifle while he was with the program.
He was a member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Kingwood, the Kingwood Lions Club, the VFW, the American Legion, the Public Relations Society of America, and the West Virginia Association of Retired School Employees. He was a WVU Football season ticket holder for as long as he could make his way to his seats. He loved to support his Mountaineers.
He was deeply devoted to God, Country and Family. He is survived by his wife, Anita, sons Kenneth (Shannon) and son John of Kingwood, and Christopher (Kelly) and daughters Katelyn & Camryn of Greenville, SC; his sister Jeanne (Bill) Arnold of Cabins, WV and sister-in-law Jean Bolyard of Kingwood. Also, his nieces and nephews whom he loved like his own: Amy (Marty) Berg of Petersburg, WV; Robert (Rachel Barnes) Rexrode of Greenville, SC; Debbie (Chip) Royce of Kingwood; Scott Bolyard of Kingwood; Donna (Mark) Meyers of Canonsburg, PA; and great nieces and nephews: Lucas (Sarah) Berg, A1C Emma Berg, Henry Rexrode, Graham Rexrode, Nick Royce, Alex Royce, Nathan (Taelor) Bolyard, Ashley Bolyard, Samuel Meyers, Olivia Meyers; great great nephew; Forrest Scott Bolyard
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his in-laws, Kenneth and Mildred Snyder and his brother-in-law, Donal Bolyard.
Friends may call on Friday, October 27th at the Kingwood Funeral Home, 295 S. Price Street, Kingwood WV, from 3PM to 7PM, and on Saturday, October 28th at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 107 W. High Street, Kingwood, at 10AM until 11AM at the time of service with Reverend Jonathan Nettles officiating. Interment will follow at Maplewood Cemetery. Full military graveside rights will be accorded by the WV Army National Guard, VFWs, and Vietnam Veterans of Preston County.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Bereavement Fund at Wesley United Methodist Church or via check to the Warriors Afield Legacy Foundation by mail to 6628 West Terrace Wash Lane, West Jordan, Utah 84081.