Lieutenant General Edward A. Craig Cover

Lieutenant General Edward A. Craig

Warrior Six: Combat Leader in World War II and Korea

Richard D. Camp

Casemate, Havertown, Pennsylvania, 2023, 240 pages

Book Review published on: September 15, 2023

In his biography of Lt. Gen. Edward Craig, retired Marine and historian Richard Camp provides insights into one of the unsung leaders of the Marine Corps during the critical period in its history. Prior to Craig’s death in 1994, he provided Camp an unpublished manuscript of his time in the Marines. The author combined this manuscript with research at the Marine Corps history division archives, including Craig’s oral history, to write this tribute. By all accounts, Craig led an extraordinary life.

Craig served in the Marine Corps from 1917 to 1951. Even though he missed combat in World War I, Craig had an adventurous time in the postwar Marine Corps. Serving in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and China, Craig was involved in battling bandits, jungle patrols, setting up elections, and protecting civilians during a civil war. He even managed to survive a shipwreck. Craig credits the Marines’ participation in these expeditionary missions with formulating the combat leadership and knowledge of jungle warfare necessary to defeat the Japanese. The lessons he learned during these experiences formed him into the senior leader the Marines needed for World War II.

During World War II, Craig served as the regimental commander for the 9th Marine Regiment during the amphibious assaults at Bougainville and Guam. Prior to his deployment, in what was a heartbreaking choice, he had to leave behind his dying wife. Once in theater, Craig’s recollections reveal lessons in the dilemmas between mission and men, problems of command, gaining and maintaining situational understanding, and problem solving. After giving up regimental command, Craig assumed duties as V Amphibious Corps G-3 for the assault on Iwo Jima.

Camp provides some insights into a time not often written about, the post-World War II Marine Corps. Craig spends time in China and then assumes command of the First Provisional Marine Brigade on Guam. Craig discusses the challenges of command and obtaining resources in the war-torn Pacific.

Where Craig’s true military genius comes out is as the commander of the Marine brigade sent to the Pusan Perimeter at the start of the Korean War. Here, Craig shows how leadership can make a difference in desperate, complex circumstances. Craig discusses battle command and how the first use of the helicopter in battle enabled it as well as the importance of preparedness. Following the battles at the Chosin Reservoir, Craig returns to the United States, and in what seems like a hasty decision which he later regrets, decides to retire.

Overall, the book provides interesting insights and observations about leadership and command. Readers will notice there are gaps in the narrative; for example, the author jumps from 1937 to 1942, but this is more attributed to the significance of the events. The author sticks to the most important insights and provides context for the reader to understand the points Craig was making. I recommend the book to those readers interested in leadership in battle for the lessons Craig provides.

Book Review written by: Robert J. Rielly, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas