Clarence Byrle Craft was born on September 23, 1921 in San Bernardino, California. He was working as a “bus, taxi, truck, [or] tractor” driver when he was drafted into the United States Army on September 16, 1944, just one week before his 23rd birthday.
Craft was trained as an infantryman and was sent to the Pacific as a replacement soldier for the 96th Infantry Division. The 96th, known as the “Deadeyes”, had just completed their first combat assignments in late 1944 and early 1945 in the Philippines. Craft would join them for the Battle of Okinawa as a member of the division’s 382nd Infantry Regiment in the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, Company G.