KIA October 13, 2006
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
2LT Johnny Craver died October 13, 2006, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his vehicle during combat operations as he was entering the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. He is survived by his wife, Natalie; daughters, Casondra, Savanah, Emma; son, Caelen; and parents, Phyllis and Kenneth.
For Natalie Craver and her three children, the hardest day wasn’t when they buried her husband, Johnny, it was the day they got the news of his death. “One of the first things that hit me when they told me he wasn’t coming home, I realized that I wasn’t just grieving for him, I was grieving for my life,” Natalie says. In an instant, she lost her true love, the father of her children, and the military lifestyle she’d lived for twelve years.
Excerpt from an email written by Natalie after receiving Johnny’s portrait.
I took a few minutes this morning, while everyone was asleep, to look at the painting. I have it leaning against the fireplace for now. I was looking at his eyes and how at the distance from the couch they look even more life-like. The longer I stared at him the more he began to come off the canvas. The bow tie seemed to have a curve to it and the shine on his nose made it appear to be reflecting the sun. I noticed that his bottom lip has the same light inward curl he would get when he was smiling happily. Almost like it was hung on his teeth. I didn’t notice that before. It was as if the smile was changing and happening right before my eyes. I was wondering to myself through this amazing feeling, what was so different about this painting than the picture I have looked at a thousand times. In addition to everything else, it’s the size of him in the painting. It is the size that he was. He’s not minimized into an 8×10 frame. He is there in full size and larger than life the way we miss seeing him today. As I got up from the couch to walk to the kitchen, I looked back and his eyes were following me. I smiled at him, imagining all the times in my life I would feel his gaze on me as I walked away. The portrait has given me back that look I have missed so much.
2LT Johnny Craver was 37 years old from McKinney, Texas.
The second of two portraits that were painted of Johnny by Phil Taylor, was presented on June 18, 2008 to Johnny’s wife Natalie, and their three children in their home in Prosper, Texas.
Sponsored for family by:
Barry and Robin Farris, McKinney, Texas