Thomas Elbert Creek

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
07 April 1950 - 13 February 1969
Amarillo, Texas
Panel 32W Line 025

Medal of Honor

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Thomas E Creek

The database page for Thomas Elbert Creek

05 Jun 2002


From a school friend,
Jo Anne (Kono) Smith
12 Aug 2003

Lance Corporal Thomas E. Creek was my friend and fiance' when he was killed in 1969. I think of him always and miss him every day. He was a sweet young man, probably the most giving individual I ever knew. When he asked me to marry him, I was only 17, and knew he was going overseas to Viet Nam. I told him I would marry him when he came home if he still wanted me. But Tom said he wanted to get married first because he just had this feeling that he wasn't coming back. I became upset and angry with him for saying such a thing. And today I wish I could go back in time and change it all. But you see, so many young men I'd seen go overseas, whether Germany, Korea or Viet Nam, had come back with completely different agendas than when they left. Why? Because they left our precious America as children, and came back MEN. Tom didn't get to come home after all, but I am as proud of him today as I was then.

Recently I learned that his little brother, Roy Creek, has passed away, as well as his parents. Oh how his family hurt and paid. Tom has one living older brother, Ross Creek of Amarillo, TX. I just hope Ross and his wife, Kris, know how much Tom was loved - and by so many!


Lynna (McBrayer) Paris

15 Nov 2003


Thank you for your sacrifice, for fellow Marines.

HMH-363 ... call sign "Yankee Zulu"

09 Jun 2006

Semper Fi, my young man.

I have read about you, watched a VA Center be named after you, and stood right at your marker.

I spent four years in the Corps and am so honored to this day to be a part of a team that you represented with all a man can give.

Thank you and your family for helping me and my family live on in the name of Love.

Sgt. John Moya, Jr.
USMC 1975-1979

10 Jun 2007

Taken on Memorial Day 2007.

Brothers never forget!

Sgt John Moya, Jr.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

The 7th Motor Transportation Battalion's Command Chronology for February 1969 contains the following entry:
"On 13 February 1969, the Vandegrift convoy was ambushed by an estimated NVA platoon. Land mines, mortars, fragmentation grenades and small arms fire were used to attack the convoy. The attack was repulsed and after an hour's contact the convoy continued to its destination. This action took place on Route #9, approximately 7 miles east of the Vandegrift Combat Base. ... Friendly losses were 3 killed and 14 wounded."
while the III Marine Amphibious Force Intelligence Summary for the period says
"Elsewhere in Quang Tri enemy efforts were hightlighted by the 13 February ambushing of a convoy on Route 9, seven kilometers west southwest of Cam Lo (YD059569) by an unknown size enemy force employing small arms and 60mm mortar fire. One tractor-trailer was destroyed while two tractor-trailers and a two and one-half ton truck were damaged. In addition three Marines were killed and 11 others wounded."
The ambush is mentioned in other documents as well, and all agree that three Marines were killed in the action ... but The Virtual Wall can positively identify only two of the three men
  • LCpl Thomas E. Creek, Amarillo, TX, I Co, 3rd Bn, 9th Marines (Medal of Honor), and
  • LCpl Daniel L. Henry, Phoenix, AZ, Trans Company, 7th Motor Trans Bn.
The casualty database shows ten other Marines who died in Quang Tri Province on 13 Feb 1969. Nine of them can be fully accounted for in their respective unit's Command Chronologies; only one cannot. While the 3rd MP Battalion Chronology notes the death of Sergeant Garson White, a scout dog handler from H&S Company, 1st MP Bn attached to 3rd MP Bn, it does not give any information regarding the circumstances of his death. Sergeant White is the only candidate for the third Marine killed in the ambush and is therefore included here.

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


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 I, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Vietnam. On 13 February 1969, Lance Corporal Creek's squad was providing security for a convoy moving to resupply the Vandegrift Combat 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 North Vietnamese Army force. When his squad rapidly deployed to engage the enemy, Lance Corporal 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 force, 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, a North Vietnamese fragmentation grenade was thrown into the gully where he had fallen, landing between him and several companions. Fully realizing the inevitable results of his action, Lance Corporal Creek valiantly rolled on the grenade and absorbed the full force of the explosion with his own 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 North Vietnamese were defeated and the convoy was able to continue its vital mission. Lance Corporal Creek's indomitable courage, inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Ceremony at VA Medical Center to Honor Thomas Creek

(Amarillo) On Veterans Day, one of our area’s war heroes will be honored during a special event at the facility that now bears his name.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Amarillo is now the Thomas E. Creek Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The facility’s new name honors U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Thomas E. Creek of Amarillo, whose final act in life was credited with saving the lives of several of his comrades.

The official renaming ceremony at the VA Medical Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday November 11, 2005. It is expected that members of the Thomas Creek family, as well as local veteran leaders will attend the ceremony, which is taking place on the first Veteran’s Day since the law changing the name was approved.

U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry (TX-13), who filed the legislation authorizing the name change, will be among the speakers for the ceremony.

The VA Medical Center is located at 6010 Amarillo Boulevard West. The public is invited to attend the event.

Creek’s Act of Heroism

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Thomas E. Creek of Amarillo was killed in combat in Vietnam in February of 1969. On the day he died, Corporal Creek was an 18 year old Marine with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Creek was with a resupply convoy when it was ambushed by enemy forces near Cam Lo. During a fierce firefight staged at point blank range, Creek was hit in the neck by a bullet.

Despite suffering that wound, when Creek saw a fragmentation grenade land between him and the rest of the squad, Creek deliberately rolled on top of the explosive. When the device blew up, Creek absorbed the full impact of the blast – losing his life but saving five other Marines nearby. Creek’s bravery inspired the rest of his squad to rally, overcome the enemy, and go on to deliver the load of supplies to the forward combat base.

For his courage and sacrifice, Creek was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Nixon.

Thornberry Worked With Local Veterans

In the fall of 2003, Congressman Thornberry was approached by a group of local veterans who suggested changing the name of the VA Medical Center as a way of paying lasting tribute to Creek’s valor. Acting upon that recommendation, Thornberry crafted legislation to make the veterans’ idea a reality. But, before the bill could be considered, approval of the proposed name change had to be obtained from every other member of the Texas Congressional delegation and also from six major veterans service organizations – the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and AMVETS.

Working together, the local veterans and Thornberry received the necessary approvals. Once the preliminary work was complete, Thornberry introduced legislation seeking the VA Medical Center name change on July 15, 2004. During a statement he delivered on the House floor that day, Thornberry called Creek “a true American hero, deserving of this recognition and honor.”

Thornberry also told his House colleagues that, “In some ways, 1969 seems like a long time ago, yet acts of bravery like Corporal Creek’s are timeless. They provide an example for us all. Corporal Creek’s name will further magnify the honor attached to those who have served our nation and receive health care at this veterans’ facility.”

Congress gave final approval to the VA name change on November 17, 2004. The legislation was signed into law by President Bush on November 30, 2004.

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.

He is buried in the
Llano City Cemetery, Amarillo, Potter County, Texas.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a school friend,
Jo Anne (Kono) Smith

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 05 Jun 2002
Last updated 11/17/2007