THOMAS ELBERT CREEK (1950 ~ 1969). Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas E. Creek was born on April 7, 1950, in Joplin, Missouri. His father, Ross F. Creek, was originally from Amarillo, Texas, and moved there with his family early in Thomas Creek's life. Creek attended Palo Duro High School in Amarillo before enlisting in the Marine Corps at San Diego, California.
After training he was assigned to Company I, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division as a Lance Corporal and deployed to Vietnam in July 1968. On February 13, 1969, Creek's unit was escorting a convoy of trucks bringing supplies to Vandergrift Command Base. As the convoy approached the Cam Lo Resettlement Village, an enemy command-detonated explosive destroyed one of the trucks and halted the column. The convoy was immediately subjected to heavy mortar and small arms fire from a hidden enemy force.
Creek moved quickly to a position where he could fire back at the enemy. He then spotted a position from which he could more effectively engage the enemy and moved across exposed ground to reach it. Creek was hit by a bullet in the neck and fell into a gully where several other soldiers where taking cover. Almost immediately after falling into the gully, an enemy grenade landed in between Creek and the other soldiers. Creek rolled onto the grenade and absorbed its explosion. His action saved the lives of the soldiers around him, and Creek was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Creek's Medal of Honor was presented to his family on April 20, 1970, by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew at the White House. In 2005 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Amarillo was renamed in his honor. Creek is buried in the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo.
Bibliography: "Above and Beyond: The Medal of Honor in Texas," Capitol Visitors Center, State Preservation Board of Texas. Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/CC/fcrsn.html, April 26, 2006. "Thomas E. Creek," Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_E._Creek, June 14, 2006. "Thomas Elbert Creek," Find A Grave.com, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7030420, April 26, 2006.