Hospital honors war Veteran and beloved Walker High teacher

The Ochsner Medical Center honored Vietnam War Veteran Henry Rudolph Craig of Walker after he passed away at age 78 from natural causes.

The hospital called a “code red, white and blue” which meant all available staff and the family lined the hallways as he was escorted to the morgue with a flag draped over him. The flag was then presented to his wife of 50 years, Linda Dunn Craig.

Craig was a Vietnam War Veteran, but he was also a history teacher and then the assistant principal at Walker High School.

He grew up in Walker, attended Walker High School, graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University with a double masters and then went back to Walker High School to teach.

In 1962, he signed up for selective service, and he graduated from Southeastern in 1966.

Two years into teaching at the high school, he was drafted to join the United States Army and to fight in Vietnam.

“Rudolph” and Linda married in 1969, two weeks before he left for his training assignments at Fort Hood and Fort Polk.

His daughter Christy Craig Dwyer said when he was drafted, his papers said he was going to work for the Pentagon so he had no clue he was actually going to serve in Vietnam.

“He didn’t realize he was actually going to be in Vietnam in the war that was going on. He did all of the bootcamps and trainings and stuff, but he actually worked in the office part wherever the military was in different parts of Vietnam,” Christy said.

She said her father did not talk much about his time in Vietnam, and he missed the birth of his first born child while he was stationed there.

In July of 1970, he returned home as a Staff Sergeant (E6) to his firstborn son and namesake who they nicknamed “Junior” a few months after he was born. Junior sadly died five years ago from a heart attack.

Craig’s niece Kimberly Craig Vellier said the entire family has always been incredibly close, and that her father wrote his older brother and her “Uncle Rudolph” a song while he was away at war.

Wounded in Vietnam
Today we had a battle
the kind no one likes to fight
It started early this morning
and it lasted til the night
Oh I heard those bullets flying
and now I am dying
Oh here I am
I’m wounded in Vietnam
Now I can remember
those good ole times back home
when I would go to the church house
and pray from dusk to dawn
for it was there that I found Jesus
and received Him in my heart
and now that I am saved
I’m no longer in the dark
And now I am praying
Dear Lord don’t take me away
You know that I love you
God, please let me stay
But if it’s your will Lord
Then come and take me home
To a land where it’s better
much better than Vietnam

Henry Rudolph Craig was loved dearly by his family, but he was also a beloved and respected member of the Walker community.

Apart from the army, Craig’s only job was teaching at Walker High School.

Christy said she knew people considered her father a “pillar of the community,” but since his death, people have been telling her their stories with her dad.

“Some of the stories are: he was their favorite teacher, he was always very very kind to them, he was just a big influence on them in those teenage years growing up. Some of them tell me ‘He sold me my first car’ or ‘We’ve been friends forever and he’s been the same person throughout his whole life’,” Christy said.

Christy and Kimberly both recounted one of their favorite family stories of Craig teaching Kimberly’s mom in school.

“One of the stories my aunt always tells, that’s his little sister. He actually taught her in school, and instead of calling him Mr. Craig, she would call him Rudolph. You know, she would call him by his name. That’s her brother. Every time she did it, he would make her write lines. They would always joke around and tell that story of her having to write so many lines in his class because she wanted to call him Rudolph,” Christy said.

Kimberly said her “Uncle Rudolph” is actually the reason she became a teacher because he had such an impact on her life.

Like Kimberly, much of the Walker community looked up to and loved Henry Rudolph Craig.

The family has decided to make the wake and funeral open to the public to allow everyone whose lives he touched to say goodbye and pay their respects.

His wake will take place this Tuesday, Jan. 3, from noon to 8p.m. in the back gym at Walker High School, the place were he spent 35 years of his life.

The funeral service will be directed by Seale Funeral Service the next morning, Jan. 4, at Lighthouse Pentecostal Church.

He will be buried with honors at Lighthouse Pentecostal Church immediately following the service.

Lighthouse Pentecostal Church was his church for 50 years, and Walter High School will host the wake to accommodate the amount of people who will attend.

Christy said, “For us it would definitely be easier to keep him all at our church, but we also know the importance he was to the community. So we want them to be able to come pay their respects also.”

The family wishes to thank the entire Walker community for the support and the love they have always given.

About Kiran Chawla 1134 Articles
I'm an Emmy & Murrow Award winning investigative reporter who simply loves my job!

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