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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Veterans Taylor and John Creighton stand for a portrait on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 in Hixson, Tenn. The two brothers come from a family of seven brothers who all served in the military.

John and Taylor Creighton are the youngest and last of seven Grundy County, Tennessee, brothers who accumulated more than 100 years of military service among them.

The Creighton family hails from Grundy's Tarlton community.

John "Sonny" Creighton, 90, volunteered at 18 to join the U.S Navy in 1948 because all the Creighton brothers served their country. It was already a family tradition in his earliest memories, he said. The brothers are the children of the late Morgan and Elizabeth Creighton, and the tradition started with their sons.

John Creighton served from 1948 to 1952, spending his time during the Korean War at sea aboard the USS Missouri, a battleship.

His younger brother, sitting next to him, was a career military man.

Photo Gallery

Grundy County's Creighton brothers

(Read about other local veterans in our "21-Veteran Salute" series here)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. (retired) Taylor Creighton, 84, joined up for the same reasons, he said, but after his first tour, Taylor Creighton decided to remain in the military for a total of 20 years and nine days, the younger of the two brothers said as they sat at the elder's home in Hixson, Tennessee.

Nine days? Taylor Creighton laughed, saying he couldn't remember the hours and minutes.

The two brothers say they are very proud of the Creighton family's history of military service that, combined, totals 108 years.

Aside from family tradition, one attraction of the military was it offered good pay compared to field work and coal mining back home in Grundy County, the brothers agreed.

John Creighton, honorably discharged from the Navy as a Metalsmith 3rd Class, said he was aboard the 897-foot-long Missouri with 5,000 other men when it shelled the mainland during the Korean War. It was as close to battle as he would have to come, but the Missouri didn't avoid every danger, he said, noting an incident that happened near port in the U.S.

"The captain was going to take it by himself, and he ran aground," John Creighton said. "They removed him from the ship."

There was significant damage.

"It knocked a hole in it 100 feet long," John Creighton said of the Missouri's damage. Sailors closed up the interior openings to keep the ship from taking on enough water to sink, but the damage forced the Missouri into dry dock for repairs, John Creighton said.

After his four-year tour, John Creighton returned home where he worked as a plumber, he said.

 

BIO

Name: John Creighton

Age:90

Branch of military: U.S. Navy

Years of service: 1948-1952

 

Meanwhile, Taylor Creighton started his military journey a couple of years after John Creighton left the service.

"I followed my brothers' footsteps," said the youngest of seven Creighton brothers and two sisters.

Once he got there, he stayed for 20 years.

When he served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, part of several years he served in the Far East, Taylor Creighton was stationed at Tan San Shut Air Force Base.

Even though he made it a career, Taylor Creighton doesn't crow much about his service because "I wasn't in any combat. All we had were rocket attacks and that was enough," he said.

BIO

Name: Taylor Creighton

Age: 84

Branch of military: U.S. Air Force

Years of service: 1954-1974

 

The brothers are proudest of their five older brothers, all now deceased, and the tradition they started.

Taylor Creighton said that because there were so many brothers who served and then scattered across the country after their service, the two youngest brothers know little about their siblings' years in uniform, and now they're all gone.

(Read about other local veterans in our "21-Veteran Salute" series here)

Arthur Creighton served 27 years in the U.S. Navy and had already enlisted before World War II began, the brothers said. Arthur served on the USS Alshain and the USS Enterprise during World War II, and he was in 14 major sea battles in the South Pacific. Arthur Creighton retired as master chief petty officer.

"He was a great, great person," Taylor Creighton said.

Tom Creighton, one of two Creightons who didn't volunteer, served four years in the U.S. Army. He was one of the first men to be drafted from Grundy County in 1941, the brothers said. Tom Creighton served in North Africa and with the 88th glider group.

John and Taylor Creighton said they didn't know whether Tom Creighton was planning to volunteer or not, but he was "drafted No. 1 from Tarlton."

Just weeks later, Earl Creighton was drafted No. 2 from Tarlton, the brothers said. Unlike Tom Creighton, draftee Earl Creighton stayed, serving in the U.S. Army during World War II and later in the U.S. Air Force for a total of 27 years of service that included tours in Korea and Vietnam. Earl Creighton retired as a senior master sergeant.

John and Taylor Creighton said their brother, Leonard "Boss" Creighton, was another career military Creighton serving 22 years in the U.S. Navy. Leonard Creighton served on the USS Idaho during World War II and was a chief petty officer when he retired.

Finally, James "Perch" Creighton volunteered to serve four years in the U.S. Navy at a base in Minnesota, where he remained after his discharge to marry and become a carpenter.

As far as they could remember, John and Taylor Creighton said only two of the brothers served together in the same place.

Leonard and Arthur Creighton were together at the same time in the Navy, Taylor Creighton said. John added that those two brothers were stationed together in San Francisco.

While Taylor Creighton didn't talk much about his experiences, he did mention a loss that seemed to bother him, an experience all the brothers probably shared.

"I had good buddies in Vietnam and Korea and Japan," Taylor Creighton said, growing somber. "Some of them are dead and gone, and I lost my best friend in Vietnam. We went to high school together, and his plane crashed on takeoff."

"His name was Marshall Brown, and he was an engineer on a C-141," he said.

The Creighton brothers "loved their country and wanted to serve," Taylor Creighton said, "and we all stick together."

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

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