Craig native E.J. Caras heading back to fight in Middle East |

Craig native E.J. Caras heading back to fight in Middle East

E.J. Caras, U.S. Air Force senior airman, stands as Craig Intermediate School students applaud his service in Iraq. "I never got a standing ovation" before, he said afterward. "It's pretty cool."
Hans Hallgren

A Craig native who walked the halls of Moffat County High School where he graduated in 2003 is now a master logistician in charge of the Air Force’s most important military transport aircraft.

“I load all sorts of aircraft,” said Staff Sergeant Earnest James “E.J.” Caras. “I load up all the aircraft and the refueling aircraft.”

The base Caras is currently stationed at is the largest C17 base in the world. Joint Base Louis-McChord sits outside Lakewood, Washington, near Tacoma, Washington.

Life hasn’t always been easy for E.J. According to his father, Terry Caras, of Craig, E.J.’s biological mother died when he was three years old. Later the family moved to a home on Legion Street where Caras said he still remembers E.J.’s Cabbage Patch Kids Christmas nativity scene.

“When I came home one year, I was right in tears,” Caras said. “It was beautiful.”

E.J. comes back to town occasionally to see family and friends, having recently attended a wedding in Craig when he spoke to the Craig Press.

And now, after more than 15 years and multiple deployments around the world — Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and countless military training exercises — Caras is going to the Middle East again.

“I’m due to head back out for deployment number nine,” Caras said. “What I’m going to be doing there, I don’t exactly quite know. But I’m a well-versed logistician.”

Having a job like E.J.’s allowed him to train and become highly qualified in APICS, which trains and certifies individuals in supply chain and logistics management.

“Only 20% of my career field have ever qualified to be APICS-ers,” E.J. said.

E.J. doesn’t have so much as an associates degree, but said his training and experience will provide for his family in the future.

“My job actually right now, with the level of qualifications I hold and all the vehicles I’m qualified on, it could turn into a six-figure income very easily,” E.J. said.

E.J. doesn’t see many other Moffat County natives in his travels abroad.

“It’s extremely rare,” E.J said. “It’s really hard to actually find anybody who knows what Moffat County is.”

If the friends and family he grew up with could have seen E.J.’s adventures over the past 15 years, they might be surprised.

“I recovered F22s from Okinawa during a tsunami,” E.J. said.

He says it was his Moffat County upbringing that made him successful.

“I’m glad that they were able to provide me with education and guidance over the years,” E.J. said. “I feel like the way I developed because of how small Craig is and the focus and love this community provides, helped me turn into a better person, to show what Craig is all about, and to be a good representative.”

E.J. wants to hit his 20-year military retirement goal.

“The goal is to go for the 20, so I have another five years to go,” E.J. said. “If I can make the next rank, I might just stay as long as they let me.”

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