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Amarillo VA Health Care System


Who Was Thomas E. Creek?

Picture of Thomas E Creek

Thomas E. Creek,

who was posthumously awarded the medal of honor for heroism during February 1969 in Vietnam, was born 7 April 1950 in Joplin, Missouri. He grew up in Amarillo, Texas and attended Forest Hill Elementary School, Horace Mann Jr. High School, and Palo Duro High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps 16 January 1968. He completed recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, in March 1968.  He received individual combat training with Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Pendleton, in May 1968. He was promoted to Private First Class 1 June 1968.
In July 1968, he was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. He first saw duty as a rifleman with Company E, Second Battalion, 27th Marines, Regimental Landing Team 27, 1st Marine Division. In September 1968, he was assigned duty as a fire team leader with Company 1, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, and was promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 November 1968.  While serving in the latter capacity, he was killed in action on 13 February 1969, near the Cam Lo resettlement village.  A complete list of medals and decorations include:  the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Lance Corporal Creek was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ross F. Creek Sr., of Amarillo, and two brothers.  Lance Corporal Creek's Medal of Honor was presented to his family on 20 April 1970 at the White House by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.  The final resting place of Lance Corporal Thomas E. Creek, marked by a granite tombstone and two American flags, is just inside an entrance gate to the Llano city cemetery in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas.   


Rank and organization: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company 1, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine division (Rein), FMF.

Place and date: Near Cam Lo, Republic of Vietnam, 13 February 1969. Entered service at Amarillo, Texas. Born 7 April 1950, Joplin, Missouri.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as a rifleman with Company 1 in action against enemy forces.  L/Cpl. Creek's squad was providing security for a convoy moving to re-supply the Vandegrift Command Base when an enemy command detonated mine destroyed one of the vehicles and halted the convoy near the Cam Lo resettlement village. Almost immediately, the marines came under a heavy volume of hostile mortar fire followed by intense small arms fire from a well concealed enemy force. As his squad deployed to engage the enemy, L/Cpl. Creek quickly moved to a fighting position and aggressively engaged in the fire fight. Observing a position from which he could more effectively deliver fire against the hostile forces, he completely disregarded his own safety as he fearlessly dashed across the fire-swept terrain and was seriously wounded by enemy fire. At the same time, an enemy grenade was thrown into the gully where he had fallen, landing between him and several companions.  Fully realizing the inevitable results of his action, L/Cpl. Creek rolled on the grenade and absorbed the full force of the explosion with his body, thereby saving the lives of five of his fellow marines. As a result of his heroic action, his men were inspired to such aggressive action that the enemy was defeated and the convoy was able to continue its vital mission. L/Cpl. Creek's indomitable courage inspired both the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.