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Navy veteran recalls half of his career spent as a Marine

In his 21-year career as a Navy medic, Russ Creighton never was stationed aboard a ship.

The 79-year-old retired Navy corpsman said he spent half of his career with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Creighton served in the Navy but was stationed with the 2nd Marine Division with tours in Europe, Lebanon and Vietnam.

“At that time they had just integrated and most black members were made stewards, or cooks, but luckily I had enough education that I was able to go to a Navy hospital corps school,” he said, rifling through a folder containing his military records.

Creighton enlisted in the Navy in March 1952. In 1961, he was stationed at the Pueblo Naval and Marine Corps Training Center.

After a four-year stint in Pueblo, he was given orders for Vietnam.

Creighton, who was a senior chief, participated in several operations in Vietnam with the 3rd Company Medical Battalion.

“We would go into the fields of operations where they had insurgencies to take care of the wounded. Most of my medals came when I was in Vietnam,” Creighton said.

“We had explosions, bombs and everything. We were out there doing everything we could to help. It made me feel good even though I was always worried that I might be hurt.”

He served in Vietnam for 13 months.

Racism crept into his family’s life while Creighton was in Vietnam. His wife Dora and five children were denied trailer space to live in Indianapolis because they were black, Russ Creighton said. They eventually were allowed a spot for their trailer at Fort Benjamin Harrison, an Army post outside of town.

The family faced racial prejudices throughout their travels, but it never fazed Dora Creighton.

“I knew I had a family to take care of . . . I must say we never had problems like that in Pueblo,” she said. Creighton said through it all, his wife of 58 years was the ultimate military wife.

“She went through a lot of problems as a military wife but came through,” he said.

Creighton retired from the Navy in 1973, and he and Dora have lived in Pueblo since. They have been a part of several military veterans groups including The Retired Enlisted Association.
 

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