15 Feb 1LT John S. Creaghe Training Support Center
Fort Drum, New York
Fort Drum occupies over twenty-five square miles of land in rural upper New York State about seventy miles north of Syracuse on Interstate 81. The wooded and rolling hills are very beautiful in summer, but the winters are something else. Even the cattle are a weather resistant breed. The 16,000 plus soldiers, their families, and support staff who live and work there are a hearty group and are very proud of their part of the Army.
The base is the home of the 10th Mountain Division (Light). The division was born in World War II; and, at that time, was based at Camp Hale in the Colorado Rockies (see “Historic Sites”). It was during this time that John S. (St. George) Creaghe (1922-2011) was a member of the unit, training in Colorado and fighting in the mountains of Italy. The division was deactivated soon after the war and Camp Hale was closed.
It was reactivated in 1985 and eventually became known as the 10th Mountain Division (Light). It was, and is today, the most deployed large unit in the US Army. At this time, parts of the 10th are still in Afghanistan. With the ramping up of the US Military to meet the demands of the War on Terror, Fort Drum expanded and modernized its facilities.
Part of the expansion included new buildings on the base. The Army has a tradition of naming buildings and facilities in honor of people who have in some way distinguished themselves while associated with the particular unit. In the case of the new training support center, a 35,000 square foot complex housing class rooms and offices in addition to a 70,000 square foot warehouse for the items used in the training of the troops, the Division chose to honor John. To my knowledge, of all the many buildings, fields, roads, and the like on the base, only three have been dedicated to WWII veterans of the Division. The Headquarters building is named for the war time Commanding General, Brig. Gen.George Hayes, a large physical fitness center honors John Magrath, a nineteen-year-old solider who was awarded The Medal of Honor posthumously; John Creaghe was chosen for the third facility.
Serendipitously, the woman in charge of coordinating the dedication ceremony checked the roster of current active duty and reserve for soldiers named Creaghe. Lo and behold, there was one: Christopher B. She then emailed him asking if he knew of John Creaghe. The response was, “Yes, he was my Great Uncle”. One thing lead to another, and the surviving members of John’s family were invited to participate in the event. His wife, Norma, was unable to attend, but the family was represented by four of us. The small, appropriate and very well done ceremony was held in one of the class rooms in the 1LT John S. Creaghe Training Support Center on April 8, 2015.
The Center is on an active Army base, and, therefore, cannot be visited without a military sponsor. If you can arrange it, check it out. The ceremony and a local news broadcast are included below.
Author: Stephen B. Creaghe