Creeger represents 40-plus years

The flag flying in the front yard of the Creeger home on SR 18 is doing so with a strong foundation, and it is a work in progress symbolic of the Creeger family.

Three generations of Creegers have served and are serving this country, with Lloyd’s father serving in World War II, and Lloyd and his twin sons serving in Iraq at the same time, in the same unit, and at the same base, in Baghdad.

Lloyd Creeger received his draft board notice in early 1972 and soon after made an appointment with the Air Force recruiter in Fostoria, to enlist rather than wait to be drafted. He arrived early, but the Air Force recruiter never showed.

After a second no-show by the Air Force recruiter, a Navy recruiter in an office nearby invited him up for coffee. Next thing you know, Lloyd was a hull technician in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Canopus. Hull techs do the metal work necessary to keep all types of shipboard structures, plumbing, sanitation, ballast control, in ship-shape while taking the lead in all fires onboard the ship.

Lloyd recalled one of the more intense fires aboard the Canopus that was raging in one of the cargo holds. Lloyd and “Big” Ken Ebersol responded to the fire, and while they were carrying the 1.5-inch hose down the aluminum steps, with Lloyd in front, the steps gave way and Lloyd was left dangling 8 feet above the floor, still hanging on to the hose. “Big” Ken Ebersol was named “Big” for a reason, and pulled the hose, and Lloyd from the raging fire. The fire was finally put out with the help of tug boats alongside the Canopus.

Prior to enlisting in the Navy, Lloyd met Barbara Welly on a blind date in early 1972, and kept in close contact while he was serving. In 1974, Lloyd came home on leave to marry Barbara Oct. 26, and they have been together ever since.

Lloyd began to plan a Navy career that would allow him to be stateside with his new bride, but the Navy had other plans and Lloyd ended up on the the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier.

The early years of their marriage were spent with Barbara in Tiffin and Lloyd in the Mediterranean watching over the Palestinian uprising.

June 25, 1975, the ship’s chaplain gave Lloyd the good news he was the father of twins, which was a big surprise since they were only planning on one child. The bad news was, they were 6 1/2 weeks early and not doing well. Barbara gave birth to “Baby A” and “Baby B” because they only had one boy name and one girl name picked out, and she wanted Lloyd’s input for naming the twins.

Barbara only got to see them a few minutes before they were expressed to a hospital in Toledo via ambulance; there was no Life Flight back then. They were baptized at Tiffin Mercy Hospital right before the ambulance came just in case they didn’t survive the trip.

She didn’t get a chance to see them until they were a week old, and that was against doctor’s orders because he didn’t want her to travel. Lloyd didn’t get any updates on his boys because he was on secret maneuvers, and there were no cell phones or Internet, and the mail took a while to get there.

Lloyd finally got a chance to hear his wife’s voice three months later from a phone in Italy, and she informed them the boys, named Lloyd Robert and John Allen, were doing fine.

After returning in early 1976, the Forrestal was dry-docked for a few months to prepare it to be part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebration July 4 in New York Harbor.

Lloyd’s tour of duty ended with a bang in August 1976 with the last mission of the USS Forrestal near Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were to determine how well a carrier could hold up during a nuclear sub-surface explosion. So the Navy rigged enough TNT to simulate a blast from a nuclear bomb, and after they sealed every cargo hold and cabin, they set off the bomb about 100 feet below the surface. When the force of the explosion reached the surface, Lloyd and his shipmates were thrown 3 feet off the deck, and then the ships steel began to give way and the Forrestal began to flood.

The mission was accomplished and The USS Forrestal was towed back to Pensacola, where it was retired.

Lloyd may have ended his career with the Navy, but his service to this country had just started. With his family growing with the birth of his daughter, Sheri, in 1978, Lloyd enlisted in the National Guard so he could continue to serve.

The family was complete with Heather being born in 1985, and then Desert Storm hit and Lloyd was sent to Fort McCellan, Ala., for advance training in the 145th MASH division as a nuclear, chemical and biological specialist.

After Desert Storm, he worked as first sergeant for the 385th Ambulance Co., Tiffin, and soon he was made Chief Medical NCO for the state of Ohio working as First Sergeant for the C 118th Area Support Hospital, Westerville, and 684th Area Medical Support Co. He enjoyed working for the National Guard in this capacity and he enjoyed raising his family with Barbara.

In early 2004, he was told he was being deployed to Iraq. He spent several weeks training in sub-zero cold in Ft. Drum N.Y., so he could fight in the desert in Iraq.

After two weeks in Iraq, Lloyd suffered a heart attack/stroke and was sent to Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., to recover.

He asked the nurse there if he could talk to the person in charge, and with some hesitation she brought in a colonel. Lloyd asked the colonel if he could be transferred back to Iraq so he could receive his physical therapy with his medical unit and his war buddies.

Lloyd had Pentagon contacts, and he was in Baghdad six weeks after his heart attack with his unit – and with his son, John Allen, as his bunkmate.

His job in Iraq was to travel inside and outside the Green Zone to obtain medical supplies for Camp Victory, Iraq. He also had to transport all patients to the airport in Baghdad and make sure they were identified properly and had all of their belongings.

Lloyd came home from Iraq in December 2004, much to the joy of Barbara. According to her, the transition back to civilian life took a little longer this time versus the time spent preparing for Desert Storm.

He is back to his old self now, and he has officially retired as of October, after 40-plus years of total service among the Navy, Army and National Guard.

His next project is to finish a memorial to the flag pole. This author hopes the statues of the Army and the Navy resemble their creator, for he has been a solid presence keeping us safe on land and on the high seas.

John Schupp is an assistant professor of chemistry at Tiffin University. Email him at schuppjd@