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Charles Edward Craft

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Charles Edward Craft
1921-1945

"We cannot undo the past, . . . but we can insure . . . that these men shall be respected and honored forever."

Vice Admiral Merlin O'Neill, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

Charles Edward Craft was born December 21, 1921, at Mammoth, West Virginia, the third of five children born to James Alexander and Clarice Hunter Craft. His siblings included a brother James and three sisters Louise, Ernestine, and Norma. The Craft family later moved to Charleston.

Charles attended Midway Junior High School in Kanawha County and later worked at the Point Lick Mine at Campbell’s Creek along with his father. An accomplished mandolin and fiddle player, Charles also played and sang in a pick-up country band, as did his brother “Junior.”
Charles Craft
Charles Edward Craft as a boy

Upon entering the U.S. Coast Guard in January of 1942, Charles was stationed on Padre Island located off-shore from Brownsville, Texas. While there, he married his girlfriend Wanda Melton, of Charleston.

USS Serpens
USS Serpens
When leaving for the South Pacific, Charles boarded the USS Serpens, a Coast Guard supply ship which carried military equipment and arms to the Pacific Islands. On the evening of January 29, 1945, the USS Serpens was anchored off Lunga Beach on Guadalcanal. As the crew hurriedly loaded depth charges, there was an explosion which destroyed the ship. One of the crew members killed was Seaman First Class Charles Edward Craft.

Originally buried on Guadalcanal, the unidentified remains of the 250 men killed in the explosion were reinterred en masse at Arlington National Cemetery in June 1949. The following year, the USS Serpens Memorial was dedicated at the cemetery to commemorate the disaster, the single largest one the U.S. Coast Guard suffered during World War II.
USS Serpens Memorial
USS Serpens Memorial
Courtesy Arlington National Cemetery

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West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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