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Navy petty officer spreads joy at Fallujah’s ECPs

10 Mar 2006 | Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Zahn

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class William R. Craven III celebrated his son’s birth a little differently than most new dads.  Two days after William R. Craven IV was born, the elder Craven was passing out candy rather than cigars.

Craven, a 36-year-old from Scottsboro, Ala., assigned as the religious programmer for 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment was in Fallujah, doing his usual routine, albeit with a little more gusto.  He passed out candy, toys, and school supplies to children passing through entry control points

“I wanted to be able to share some of the positive energy I had,” Craven said. “Give something back and put smiles on the faces of the kids out here during these difficult times.”

The candy and toys Craven passed out were provided by donations from people back in the United States through the Adopt-A-Soldier program.

Craven is regularly found performing such acts of kindness. It’s something he realized he enjoyed doing after becoming a member of the Red Cross and being sent on disaster relief missions to California, Delaware and North Carolina. 

“I wanted to help and get involved in volunteer work,” Craven said. “Helping the people during that made me realize that I enjoyed working with people.”

The former missile technician got the chance to become further involved in dealing with people when he transferred jobs to become a religious programmer. 

“I realized that I much more enjoy working with people, instead of electronics,” he said. “I like talking to people and learning what they believe in and what makes them think their belief is the right one.”

Before becoming an RP, he served aboard the submarines USS Stonewall Jackson and Michigan, and the sub tender USS Canopus. Despite serving aboard submarines for 12 years, this is Craven’s first time overseas, a situation that has been difficult to deal with. 

“On subs we never really went anywhere, we just went in the water and came back,” Craven added. “It’s been difficult. The hardest thing has been that I just got married recently and had my son born. The longest I had ever been away from home previously was 76 days.”

He readily added that it could be worse.

“At least here you get to see the sun rise every day,” he said.  “I once went 65 days without seeing the sun.”

Craven arrived at the battalion one year ago, new to the Marine infantry experience. His time with the battalion has been hectic, but enjoyable.

As an RP, Craven works closely with the battalions’ chaplain, Navy Lt. Timothy R. Hall.

“He is truly a pleasant person,” said Hall, a 43-year old from Orlando, Fla. “He makes my job easier by doing a lot of little things without being told, like cleaning the chapel, or finding music for the worship services.”

The Marines Craven comes into contact with daily also had good things to say about him.

“He’s the best RP I have ever worked with,” said Staff Sgt Christopher E. Dosher, the battalion’s career planner. “He’s extremely courteous to all Marines no matter what rank. You can tell that he cares for the Marines and loves his job.”

Craven has been married since July, but added that he hasn’t had a lot of time to spend with his wife Sonya Kay-Clarkson Craven, or his first son, three-year-old Gabriel Luke Craven.  He’s been training for the battalions’ deployment to Iraq and the subsequent deployment.

The birth of his son was a welcome relief after the nervous waiting and praying for everything to go smoothly.

“I kept calling my wife when I knew she was getting close,” he explained. “I called as often as I could.  I woke up in the middle of the night and called her around three in the morning and she had delivered him four hours ago. I was ecstatic.  I am floating on a cloud.”