Johnny Keith Craver
Company B 1-22 Infantry
4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
KIA October 13, 2006
Soldier from McKinney killed in
Craver was son of Denton County Sheriff's sergeant
08:03 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 17, 2006
By DONNA FIELDER / Denton Record-Chronicle
Last year Denton County Sheriffs Sgt. Phyllis Broomfield cried with her good friend Charlene Sauseda as Sausedas son,
Army Spc. Ernie Dallas Jr., was buried with military honors after he was killed in Baghdad.
Army 2nd Lt. Johnny Craver, 37, was killed Friday in a small town south of Baghdad.
I looked at her and wondered what it must be like to have to bury your son, Broomfield said Monday. Now, I know.
Her own son, Army 2nd Lt. Johnny Craver, 37, was killed Friday in a small town south of Baghdad
when he stepped out of the Bradley fighting vehicle he was commanding and an improvised explosive device blew up under his feet.
Two of his men also were killed and another soldier was injured.
Though their sons never met, the mothers are friends and co-workers at the Denton County Jail.
Broomfield learned of her sons death Saturday as she reported for duty at the jail. Another officer met her inside and led her to an interview room.
I walked down the hall and the chaplain hugged me and I saw a military man sitting in that room and I went to my knees, she said.
I said, Please dont tell me my son is dead.
Sheriff Benny Parkey said Monday that sheriffs employees were saddened by the second Iraq war loss in the department.
Its a tragedy any time a mother loses a son on the battlefield or at home, Parkey said. Two of our employees have lost sons in the war.
It makes it all the more real and closer to home. Wed ask that everyone keep this family in their prayers.
Broomfield reared her son and his younger sister, Sherry, in McKinney. She almost lost him when he was a teenager, Broomfield said.
He was badly injured in an automobile accident and she was told it would be a miracle if he lived. She got her miracle then.
When he was 17, he came to her with enlistment papers for her to sign.
I told him, You go look at that room of yours. They wont let you keep a room that messy, she said.
But he was determined to join, and when he finished high school, he did.
He became a Ranger and later a Ranger instructor. He served in Hawaii and Alaska and Washington, D.C., but he had not served war duty
until he got his orders last summer. On July 15, he and his wife, Natalie, signed the documents on their newly-built house near Fort Hood.
He left for Iraq that afternoon, never having slept a night in his new home.
Craver left three children, Savannah, 12, Caelen, 8, and Emma, 3.
Natalies father, John Moseley, lives in Denton.
I dont know all the details, but Johnny volunteered to go, Broomfield said. He told me he was going to be home Nov. 27.
I knew he could take care of himself. He was always a leader. He had me convinced he was going to be OK.
A year ago, he walked his mother down the aisle when she married Dugan Broomfield, an investigator for the Denton County district attorneys office.
They watched Craver on television when he participated in the 2005 Best Ranger Competition, Phyllis Broomfield said.
He had trained for the event for months. At the end, as he and his partner started up a steep hill, his partner twisted an ankle.
Craver took his partners 80-pound rucksack and carried it, along with his own, to the top of the hill.
He had nearly finished a masters degree in business management, his mother said.
Show me a perfect son that was Johnny, she said. Every Mothers Day and every birthday he would call me, no matter where he was in the world.
Cravers body is expected to arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Friday. She expects the funeral to take place early next week.
I know Johnny died doing what he wanted to do, Broomfield said. Id call him a hero and hed say, Im not a hero. Im just doing my job.
But he was a hero.
Dallas Morning News
Andrew Smith (left) and JohnnyCraver
(right) at the Officers Candidate School Ball on the
in Columbus, Georgia, 5 August, 2006, prior to becoming commissioned officers.
Photo from the Collin County Freedoom Fighters website
2nd Lieutenant Johnny K. Craver's decorations
Wife, best friend remember
BY DANNY GALLAGHER, McKinney Courier-Gazette
(Created: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 1:25 AM CDT)
Johnny Keith Craver
Natalie Craver, the wife of 2nd Lt. Johnny Keith Craver, who was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, said her husband didn't have to go to Iraq.
But she said he went because he felt it was his responsibility to protect his country and his family, and he was proud to be a soldier.
He had plenty of opportunities to get out of the Army, but he never did that, she said. He always re-enlisted.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday that Craver, a McKinney native, died Oct. 13 after an improvised explosive device
or IED exploded near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Craver served in the Army since 1993. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
of Fort Hood as an Infantry Officer, and received numerous decorations, including the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart
and an Army Commendation Medal. He was 37.
Natalie said her husband was born in McKinney on June 23, 1969, to Kenneth Craver and Phyllis Broomfield,
the oldest of two children including a younger sister, Sherry Craver.
Natalie said Craver left behind three children: Savanah 12, Caelen 9, and Emma Jo, 3.
She said her husband had a lifelong love for the military.
It was a dream he always had, she said.
Jesse Gonzales, a business owner from Blue Ridge who said he grew up with Craver in McKinney since the third grade,
said he recently found some school papers from his best friend's junior high school days that had Army Ranger
and Special Forces insignia drawn on the margins.
Gonzales and Craver also went to basic training together at Fort Knox in Kentucky after graduating from high school in 1987,
then joined the National Guard in spring 1988 while they shared an apartment, worked during the day and went to school at night.
But when Gonzales decided to return to civilian life, he said Craver wanted to sign up for active duty full time.
I did ask him when he decided to go into the Army and he called me and said he wanted a little bit more, Gonzales said.
He said he wanted to do a little bit more for himself and for his country.
Natalie said she followed her husband during his military career all over the world to places like Washington, D.C., Alaska and Hawaii,
and he inspired many fellow soldiers along the way, both as a leader and as a friend.
So many people have called me, soldiers from all over the world: Italy, Germany, Alaska, New York ... because he was their mentor, Natalie said.
He was like a big brother to them. So many of these guys were so young, and fresh out of college, but Johnny loved that,
that he could amaze them with his stories and his skills.
But Natalie said even though his job as Ranger Leader at Fort Benning, Ga., kept him out of harm's way and near his family,
he still longed to fight for his country.
He had a hard time with that, though, because he felt like he was sitting on the bench on the biggest game of his life,
and I would tell him that he's so lucky here with me, Natalie said. But he said, yeah, but I need to go
so other daddies can come home and be with their kids.
He became an infantry officer on June 2006 at Fort Hood and left for Iraq a month later.
Natalie said she would call her husband two or three times a week. She said she tried to call her husband on Oct. 13
so he could wish his grandmother, Martha Davis, a happy birthday, but no one answered.
The call had been blocked out, Natalie said. When someone is injured or killed, their phones are turned off so there's no communication,
but I didn't think about that.
She said she kept trying to call into the following Saturday and didn't learn her husband had died
until that night at her father John Moseley's house in Denton when two Army officers paid her a visit.
Natalie said Craver only had 45 days left to serve in Iraq at the time of his death.
At that moment, I wanted to die and if I could have gone with him (Lt. Craver), I would have, Natalie said.
But I'm here taking care of his babies and I'll be strong for them, but I'll never forget that moment when I found out he was never going to come home.
He was never going to come back to me.
Natalie said funeral arrangements are still pending.
Natalie said she'll miss the loving father of her children and the man who lit up when he saw me,
who loved me more than anything in the world and every time he looked at me.
But she said she also knows he felt he had a calling to which he had to answer, even if no one asked him to do it.
He didn't want us to think of him as the hero because he was just doing his job, she said. That was his job and he wanted to do it.
Contact Danny Gallagher at email@example.com.
Brothers in arms acting as pallbearers carry the body of 2nd Lt. Johnny Craver
to his funeral at Stonebridge United Methodist Church in McKinney on Monday.
Craver laid to rest with honors
06:55 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 24, 2006
By Donna Fielder / Staff Writer
McKINNEY Army 2nd Lt. Johnny Cravers wife, Natalie, had been planning a funeral ever since he went on active duty,
she told several hundred people gathered Monday to honor him.
She believed he would return, but she couldnt stop thinking about how she would conduct his service if he didnt.
I think it was Gods way of preparing me for this, she said.
Craver, 37, left Fort Hood for Iraq on July 15 and was killed in action Oct. 13. He was a 20-year career Army officer and a Ranger instructor.
During the service, his wife, his daughter and several friends described a man who loved his family, his comrades and his country.
Cravers mother, Phyllis Broomfield of Aubrey, is a sergeant in the Denton County Jail. The large sanctuary overflowed with her co-workers in uniform,
as well as uniformed law enforcement officers from numerous agencies and representatives of every branch of the military.
Natalie Craver of Harker Heights, with her two brothers at her side, told the crowd that her husband had called home
the day before he was killed by an improvised explosive device that also killed two other soldiers.
He was honest with her, she said. He told her he was in a very hostile place.
He swore to me the day he left that he was coming home. But he is holding my hand today, helping me get through this, she said.
Craver was buried with full military honors in a small family plot on a ranch belonging to his father, Kenneth Craver.
The lengthy cortege traveled two hours north and east from McKinney to the field east of Leonard.
During the solemn military ceremony, the soft sounds of more than two dozen flags whipping in the wind were broken by a 21-gun salute.
A McKinney Fire Department ladder truck hoisted an American flag high above the procession as it left the Stonebridge United Methodist Church.
About two dozen members of the Patriot Guard Riders formed an honor guard for the family.
Vietnam veteran Gary Hill, one of the Patriot Guard members, said the guard was formed when a group of veterans who ride motorcycles
saw that families were being harassed by anti-war protesters at their loved ones funerals.
The group is about 90 percent veterans, he said, and they form a shield of flags between the family and demonstrators.
There were no protesters at the funeral, but Hill said the Patriot Guard, which is 60,000 strong nationwide,
is there to make sure that military families dont bury their sons unnoticed.
Police blocked traffic at major intersections all along the drive to the burial site. In smaller towns like Anna and Leonard,
firefighters stood at attention beside their engines and townspeople lined the roads with their hands on their hearts
in respect for the dead soldier.
Staff Sgt. Josh Staugler said Craver cared about his soldiers and put them first.
I wanted to be just like him. He taught me how to be a soldier, Staugler said.
Second Lt. Andy Smith said Craver motivated soldiers who knew him, by example.
Hes the best soldier Ive ever known, Smith told the congregation.
Then he looked down at the flag-draped casket and spoke to his friend.
Im a better man for having known you, he said.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Members of the 4th
Infantry Division Honor Guard fold the U.S. flag
during burial services for 2nd Lt. Johnny Keith Craver in Leonard, Texas.
photos by: Lara Solt /
DMN Photo Staff
Birth: Jun. 23, 1969
Death: Oct. 13, 2006
Johnny Craver's grave in the private cemetery where he rests
Photo from the Collin County Freedoom Fighters website
Craver Family Cemetery
Grave marker for LT Johnny Craver
Photo from the Collin County Freedoom Fighters website
The plaque for LT Johnny Craver on the 4th Infantry Division's Wall of Honor at Fort Hood, Texas
photo by Phyllis Broomfield Johnny's mother from the Collin County Freedoom Fighters website
For a moving tribute to 2nd Lieutenant Johnny K. Craver, click on the banner below:
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