Sunday, June 22, 2003

Navy pilot salutes dad by coming home for promotion



By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Captain's eagles are pinned on Navy pilot Ray "Chip" Cravaack Jr. on Saturday by his wife, Traci, and his father, Ray Sr., at the U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center on Gilbert Avenue in Cincinnati.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
The Cravaack family reunited Saturday at the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center on Gilbert Avenue so they could see Ray "Chip" Cravaack Jr. get promoted from commander to captain.

The younger Cravaack is a 1977 graduate of St. Xavier High School now living in Lindstrom, Minn., with his wife, Traci, and 2-year-old son, Nicholas.

Because of his father's constant encouragement, he insisted on being promoted at the Cincinnati center where his father, Ray Cravaack Sr. of Madeira, was assigned as a Naval Reserve officer during the Korean War.

"I wanted to honor my father, who basically set me on this course. It meant everything to have him here," said Cravaack Jr., 43, after the ceremony.

A full-time pilot for Northwest Airlines, he said that he had wanted to join the Navy since he and his dad watched the World War II movie The Fighting Seabees, starring John Wayne.

His father was his biggest cheerleader throughout his teens, encouraging his son's love for planes and writing letters to politicians so that he could get into the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Cravaack Sr. and his wife, Connie, were in the audience when their son graduated from the academy in 1981 before serving in the Navy for nine years.

They were also with him in spirit this year, from March to mid-June, when he flew American troops back and forth between Amsterdam and Kuwait.

Cravaack Sr., 77, who still lives in the Madeira home where his son grew up, became teary-eyed when talking about seeing his son promoted Saturday.

"It's been a lot of worry, but a lot of wonderful experiences," he said.

Email svela@enquirer.com




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