Richard Melson

August 2006

US Army Engineers Iraq

For Immediate Release 31 August 2006

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers A Marine Company of Two

By Tom Clarkson

Gulf Region Division

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

"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 Corporal 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 in his own right!

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 Colonel 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 tenth month, this is his third tour in-country as well and has been a mainstay of the battalion throughout this period.

The future for both is somewhat undecided presently. COL Grant anticipates hanging up his well worn fatigue uniform in retirement within the year. CPL Craighead – a certified paramedic – is consider-ing 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."

Whatever each now choose to do, the U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq are better for their both having donned the uniform and served the world.


Tom Clarkson is a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

Gulf Region Division/Project and Contracting Office public affairs team in Iraq.

Requests for more information or pictures of higher resolution may

be directed to him at (540) 665-5344 or Email requests sent to:

For more information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq,


Marines need family too!

Tom Clarkson

LTC, Army (Ret)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

Gulf Region Division

Public Affairs Office

Commercial: (540) 665-5344

Iraqna: 0790-192-5759


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Thursday, August 31, 2006