Central West Virginia Aging Services and Post 33 of the American Legion have announced that Chief Warrant Office James F. Craft will be the featured speaker this year at the annual Braxton County Veterans Day Reception and Luncheon held at the Braxton County Armory.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 (Chief) James F. Craft was born to West Virginia natives: Robert G. Craft and Janice Marie Craft (Singleton), on the outskirts of Colombus, Ohio. Shortly thereafter his parents moved back to their home state of West Virginia where James was raised on a small farm. James graduated from Gilmer County High School and enlisted into the Army under a delayed entry program at the age of 17. James began his military career in mid-1989 and completed Infantry (11C) training and US Army Airborne School in mid to late 1989 with a follow-on assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in the 4/325 Airborne Infantry Regiment.
James partook in the invasion of Panama in 1989 to oust then Panamanian President Manuel Noriega. This brief combat operation would be James’ first and only combat jump for the then young soldier. James would shortly be deployed into a combat theater again in response to Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. James would be in Saudi Arabia until the ground invasion of Iraq where James was part of the 82nd Airborne’s and French Dragoons’ ‘left hook’ to encircle and cut off retreating Iraqi forces. Upon his return to Fort Bragg, James served as a member of the 82nd Airborne’s Rifle Marksmanship Team (where they won the 18th Airborne Corps’ trophy) and helped test and select the optic for the new service rifle.
James then began upon the end of his first enlistment his long journey into the Special Operations world in 1992. James would be assigned to the C Co. 2nd Battalion of the 19th Special Forces Group at Camp Dawson where he would attend Special Forces Selection and Assessment and after selection would attend and complete the Special Forces Weapons Sergeants Course (18B), Jumpmaster School and the Korean Language Course. James was promoted to Staff Sergeant shortly after his return to Camp Dawson and would immediately volunteer for service in Haiti to support 3rd Special Forces Group in their peace keeping and stabilization mission.
Upon James’ return to Camp Dawson, he would work briefly in the Operations Center for Camp Dawson. James then attended the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (Sniper, instructor level) and then in 1997 – 1998 would be assigned to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California where he studied and learned to speak, read and write Arabic. While there, James enrolled at Monterey Peninsula College and was able to complete an Associate Degree in Foreign Language, Arabic.
James returned to Camp Dawson in late-1998 and was shortly thereafter assigned to the Special Forces Intelligence Sergeants Course (18F) at Fort Bragg. James graduated as the lead 18B and would return to Camp Dawson to travel to Iceland for a JCET to test the NATO base defenses there. Shortly after that mission, James volunteered to deploy to Kosovo in early 2000 with the 10th Special Forces Group for their peace keeping mission. James worked as newly promoted Sergeant First Class in the role of an intelligence collector.
James returned to duty at Camp Dawson and enrolled in Methodist University (then Methodist College) in Fayetteville, North Carolina while working as an instructor for the Special Operations Preparatory Course (SOPC) where he helped develop the course for non-combat arms military specialties prepare for Special Forces.
James would leave the assignment at Fort Bragg to return to C 2/19 after the attack on the United States September 11, 2001. James’ unit would deploy to central Afghanistan into the mountainous Bamiyan Provence where they would spend almost a year in pursuit of the Taliban. James would receive a Bronze Star commendation for the deployment.
Upon his return to the US, James re-enrolled in college and attended a Special Operations Terminal Air Controller Course to control aircraft during ground attacks. James was able to complete his Bachelor’s degree with honors; graduating in August of 2003 from Methodist College. James left the military in late-2003 and began working as a contractor with the government in a role similar to his prior military experience.
James was asked to re-enter military service by a colleague in 2006 and was re-admitted to the military as a Sergeant First Class into B Co. 3rd BN 20th Special Forces Group in Roanoke Rapids, NC. James was almost immediately activated from that reserve component role for a year-long deployment for combat operations in Baqubah, Iraq. James served as the Operations Sergeant for the ~ 50 operator Special Forces company and was combat wounded during his time there. Additional, James served as a sniper and led a 6-man, sniper element from the 1st Armored Division and was responsible for countering the insurgent sniper threat during the deployment. James would receive his second Bronze Star for the deployment.
James would be promoted to Master Sergeant shortly after his return from Iraq but would volunteer to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Course at Fort Bragg and be promoted to CW2 upon completion. James would lead an A-Team for a year-long deployment to Belize in 2009 and 2010 and Guatemala to conduct training and counter-narcotics objectives.
James would continue his role as a Special Forces Warrant Officer in a reserve capacity through 2017 when he would leave the military to concentrate on his family life and civilian career. James has three children and two stepchildren and lives with his wife Miranda (Skidmore) (from Braxton County) Craft in the small town of Upperglade in Webster County. He is a member of the Knights of Pythias, the Special Forces Association, a trustee at the Cowen First Baptist Church and currently works as an investigator for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Charleston. He is a private pilot and an avid outdoorsman.
James’ military awards include: the Combat Infantry Man’s Badge (2nd Award), Master Parachutist Wings w/ bronze service star, Bronze Star (2nd Award), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (2nd award w/ “V” device), Army Achievement Medal (4th award), NATO medal, UN Service Medal, and others.