WWII Veterans Remembered: U-Haul Honors New York’s Warren S. Craig

Jun 21, 2020

Pacific Theater veteran and New Windsor native Warren Craig will be memorialized in the lobby of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor

U-Haul® was born as World War II was coming to a close, with its first one-way trailers made available to the moving public on or about July 4, 1945.

Warren Craig, circa 1942

Just as U-Haul is celebrating 75 years of service this year, America will soon celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-J Day. This signifies Victory over Japan and is observed Sept. 2 when the signing of surrender occurred, effectively ending WWII.

Veterans such as New Windsor native Warren S. Craig returned home to start a new life after the war, and in doing so planted the seeds of prosperity for U-Haul, a product of the peace for which they fought.

WWII-era Navy veteran L.S. “Sam” Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, conceived U-Haul in June 1945 when they recognized a basic need while moving up the West Coast, having left behind most of their belongings since one-way trailer rentals did not yet exist. From that idea, an industry was created and a new level of mobility became attainable for every American family.

New Display at Pearl Harbor

Today, U-Haul is committed to honoring veterans and supporting veteran causes. This is accomplished through recruiting veterans and giving them hiring preference; direct assistance to veteran groups; participation and sponsorship of Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades; and supporting Pearl Harbor tributes.

The Company’s 75th anniversary tributes will peak triumphantly with the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum’s dedication of the renovated Ford Island Control Tower on Aug. 29. U-Haul Pacific Theater veterans’ bios and photos will be displayed in the tower lobby. Craig, a successful U-Haul neighborhood dealer in the latter years of his career, will be among those memorialized on the lobby wall.

The tower will showcase a new elevator, gifted by U-Haul CEO Joe Shoen, providing public access to the observation deck where America’s lone WWII aviation battlefield can be revered and our heroes remembered.

Missing … But Found

Craig was born in July 1924 to Joseph and Mary Jane Craig in New Windsor. He grew up on Moodna Creek with his six brothers and two sisters. He was an honorary graduate of Cornwall Central High School.

Newspaper article from October 1942

At 17, Craig enlisted in the Navy in February 1942. Due to his age, his parents had to sign a consent form before he could be accepted. Craig served aboard the destroyers USS Duncan (DD485), USS Shubrick (DD639) and the dock-landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-1) in major campaigns in the Pacific and European Theaters.

In October 1942, an 18-year-old Craig was reported missing when the USS Duncan was sunk by the Japanese during the Battle of Cape Esperance in the Guadalcanal Campaign. More than 58 enlisted men and five officers were lost at sea. There was no word about Craig. He was reported as dead to his parents. A local newspaper reported him as lost at sea.

But, in fact, Craig had helped two fellow seamen evacuate the ship and spent more than 14 hours in shark-infested waters before being rescued. He was OK.

“There wasn’t anyone else left,” Craig recounted in an interview after his rescue. “We were down in the ammunition magazine in the bow of the ship. Everybody who could get out had already abandoned ship by then – the ones who could get out. I really believe there were still a few guys aboard the ship still alive who couldn’t get out. Nobody knew they were there.”

In December 1942, Craig was reassigned to the USS Shubrick, which saw action off the coast of North Africa, assisting Allied forces in the invasion of Sicily. The Shubrick suffered severe damage in October 1943, returned to New York for repairs, then headed back to Europe as part of the invasion fleet for Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Craig returned to Philadelphia in early 1945 for boiler and turbine training. He then shipped out for the Pacific, again, on the USS Ashland. The Ashland was part of the largest amphibious Pacific operation mounted by the Americans to take back Okinawa from the Japanese.

Craig was honorably discharged in October 1945 as a Boiler Tender 2nd Class. He was awarded the China Service Medal; Navy Good Conduct Medal; European Campaign Medal; European, African, Mid-Eastern Campaign with three Bonze Stars; Asiatic Pacific Campaign with two Bronze Stars; WWII Victory Medal; Philippine Liberation Ribbon; Philippine Independence Ribbon; National Defense Service Medal; and the Purple Heart.

U-Haul Man of Newburgh

From the experience he gained in the Navy, Craig started Craig Plumbing and Heating in Newburgh, N.Y., after the war. In 1959, he started W.S. Craig Auto Sales, Inc., and then expanded the company to include car rentals and real estate ventures.

Warren Craig, circa 1995

In 1989, Craig became a U-Haul neighborhood dealer. His business became known as WSC Auto Sales, Inc., and U-Haul Dealership. For more than 15 years, he tended to the moving needs of Newburgh with U-Haul truck- and trailer-sharing services. His son, Steve, and grandson, Sean, continue to run the family business and U-Haul dealership.

U-Haul boasts more than 20,000 dealers today. These independent small business owners serve as the backbone of the company, accounting for more than 90% of U-Haul rental locations throughout its North American network.

Craig was a longtime advocate for veteran’s issues before his passing in 2015. He was a member of the Tin Can Sailors, VFW, American Legion, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He was inducted in the New York Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2013.

Craig is survived by his four children: Karen Craig Norvell (Bill); Stephen W. Craig (Ann); Gail Craig Woods; and Wendy Craig; along with four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Veteran Ties and Appreciation

The Shoens started U-Haul upon Sam’s discharge with $4,000 of accumulated Navy pay and the courage formed by the cauldron of WWII. With the help of other veterans, the young couple forged their new enterprise from the freedom that victory produced.

Today, U-Haul serves all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces, helping millions of families move every year. Craig is one of the many veterans who laid the foundation for the present prosperity U-Haul enjoys.

U-Haul is one of a myriad of companies built by these incredible veterans, who are to be saluted and remembered during this 75th anniversary celebration. Thank you, Warren.

Find more veteran tributes in the History and Culture section of myuhaulstory.com.

NOTE: Featured image includes Edith Ferguson and Warren Craig, circa 1943.

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