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U.S. Marine Corps Col. Oliver Grant
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Justin Craighead
Father, Son Serve in Iraq
By Tom Clarkson
Gulf Region Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
GULF REGION, Iraq, Sept. 1, 2006 — “When Debra — the love of my life - and I met, she didn’t know Semper Fi from apple pie,” jokes the brawny bear of a Marine colonel, “and now both her husband and son are ‘jarheads’ and to top it off, we’re now both here in Iraq!”

The big and burly officer, Oliver (Ollie) Grant, is the quintessential Marine – he looks one firmly in the eye and barks with authority.  He brooks no nonsense with those who equivocate, waffle or make excuses.  And, he is unabashedly outspoken in his utter disregard for what he considers to be “all too often time wasting political correctness in lieu of common Marine sense.”

At first blush, his more demure, lean, stepson Cpl. Justin Craighead may seem almost callow by comparison.  Nothing could be further from the truth as this young man is a resolute, focused and mature Marine.

The senior is soon to wrap up seven months as the deputy director and chief of staff of the project and contracting office logistics operation.  He is an integral part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division/Project and Contracting Office tasked with the immense chore of Iraq reconstruction. 

Though a Reservist, he has been on almost continuous active duty since 1998.  In addition to this tour in Iraq, he also served in Operations Iraq Freedom I and II.  Presently - along with retired Marine Col. Jack Holly, one of the foremost military logistical experts in the world - he is part of a 14 military member team. 

This group - in typical Marine manner lovingly called the “Log Dogs” - directs hundreds of civilians and local nationals throughout Iraq with all aspects of logistics afforded to the various Iraqi ministries in order that the country may, increasingly, take charge of its own fate.

The younger, soon to be completing four years in-service, is a platoon sergeant with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines.  Nearing his 10th month, this is his third tour in-country as well and has been a mainstay of the battalion throughout this period.

U.S. Marines Cpl. Justin Craighead and Col. Oliver (Ollie) Grant, stepson and father, are currently serving in Iraq. U.S. Army photo 

The future for both is somewhat undecided.  Grant anticipates hanging up his well-worn fatigue uniform in retirement within the year.  Craighead a certified paramedic – is considering possible pursuit of a career in law enforcement or fire fighting.

Of his father figure, mentor and military senior, Craighead said, “From the outset I realized – figuratively and literally – I had big boots to fill in following ‘My Colonel’s’ lead.  But he has always counseled me to be my own man, guidance for which I am deeply appreciative.”  

Last Updated:
09/01/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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