Abbeville a special for Military Hall of Fame inductee; he met the love of his life here
Ten service men will be inducted into the Military Hall of Fame in Abbeville on Saturday. For one of those 10 men, Abbeville holds a special place in his heart because it’s where he met the love of his life.
Francis S. Craig Jr. of Baton Rouge was one of 10 men inducted Saturday afternoon in a special ceremony.
He served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, in the Pacific Theater and was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was wounded on Iwo Jima.
Family members are expected to be on hand to accept his plaque for being inducted.
“It is a great honor for the La. Military Hall of Fame to nominate our father,” said Robert Craig, his son “He deeply loved his country and was committed to defending freedom and goodness, both overseas and at home. This would make him very happy and proud were he here today. On his behalf, our entire family wish to thank the Hall of Fame for their recognition of his service.”
For the Craig family, Abbeville is known as “Happyville” because of the good days they spent there while growing up.
Francis Craig fell in love with Beverly Young, who is a native of Abbeville and the daughter of Robert Young Sr.
Before his death in 2005, they had been married for 60 years and raised five children.
The story of how they met is unique.
After graduating LSU Law School, Craig enlisted in the U.S. Marines at the start of World War II. While overseas, Craig’s mother mailed him LSU’s Alumni Magazine. Looking through it, he spotted a picture of Beverly Young, who was named an LSU Darling.
He cut out her picture, taped it inside his Marine trunk and told his buddies he was going to marry her.
“My dad did not know her,” said Anne Craig, one of his daughters. “But there was hope he would meet her one day. He did have some hope.”
He had hope because his brother, Rufous, went to med school with Beverly’s brother, Sonny Young.
Craig stayed busy fighting in the war, and he would be injured on Iwo Jima. He was sent to a hospital in New Orleans to recover.
He eventually recovered.
Beverly’s mother, back in Abbeville, was throwing a party and she learned her son’s friend, Rufous’ brother was injured in the war and recovering. She told Sonny to invite his friend’s wounded brother to the party in Abbeville.
“My father has been carrying around this picture of Beverly Young across the Pacific Ocean and no one knew except him,” said Anne. “Now he has a chance to finally meet her in person. This was a chance of a lifetime.”
He hitched a ride from New Orleans to Lafayette and members of the Young family went to pick him up in Lafayette.
“Low and behold my mother is the first person to step out of the car,” said Anne.
He spent the weekend trying to get her to like him but it didn’t look too promising. He went back to Mansfield after the party and never gave up on his love. He wrote her letters but she never wrote back. That all changed one day when he went to his mail box and found a stack of letters in his mailbox that she had sent all at one time.
Anne said she had been writing to him but was scared to mail the letters back to him until one day, she mailed them all at one time.
“He went to the mailbox and there were a stack of letters in the mailbox,” she said. “They were married five months later.”
They were married in 1945 and moved to Baton Rouge in 1946, where he began to practice law.
Beverly is 91 and lives in Baton Rouge, surrounded by her children.
Anne said Abbeville will always hold a special place in the Craig’s family heart. “As children, we always called Abbeville, ‘Happyville.’ It is a great place to visit. We always had good times.”