Lance Corporal Tom Creek, USMC Man of Courage, Medal of Honor

April 1, 2008 | Military History

Born on April 7, 1950, Tom Creek was the son of Ross and Bobbie Creek. He was born the second of three sons in Joplin, Missouri, a mid-west town where Tom’s father had recently gotten a job. Tom’s brothers, Ross Jr. and Roy, were born in Joplin as well; born into a poor family that did not rise above poverty during Tom’s lifetime. Tom’s mom was the mother of three by the time she was nineteen, and the strain on her youth added to economic turmoil. Nonetheless, the struggles that accompanied Tom’s short life seem to have only magnified the sound qualities in his character. These qualities would come to fruition during the Vietnam War, where Tom would become one of only fifty-seven Marines to receive the U.S. Military’s prestigious Medal of Honor Citation.

In 1950, Tom and his family moved to Amarillo, Texas, to be near Tom’s grandparents and extended family. Cool and courageous from birth, the friends Tom made in Amarillo described him as a “Steve McQueen type guy.” In his youngest years this courage was seen in a youthful brashness that occasionally landed him in trouble, but as Tom matured it became a bravery that demonstrated itself in a self-less show of brotherhood for his fellow Marines.

Tom’s father was an on-again off-again truck driver who was not home with any regularity: he was not consistently home whether he was driving his truck or not. Tom’s mom waited tables for a living and together with her husband brought home just enough salary to keep the children fed and reasonably clothed. Tom and his two brothers, Ross Jr. and Roy, all three worked to compensate their parent’s meager incomes. Money was so tight that every day was a work day for Tom and his brothers: they had to work to make sure their mother had enough money to buy groceries. Tom’s oldest brother Ross Jr., only remembers two Christmases where the boys did not have to work; only two Christmases where they found presents under the tree. Read more…