Born at Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, August 25, 1940 he attended high school in Brandywine, Maryland, and received a BA degree in mathematics from Teachers College in Frostburg, Maryland, June 1963. Prior to enlisting in the Regular Marine Corps, he was a member of the U.S. Army (1955-57), the District of Columbia National Guard (1959-61) and the Army Reserve (1961) and the Marine Corps Reserve (1961-63).
He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve in order to accept a commission in the Marine Corps, September 30, 1963. He attended Officers Candidate School, USMC Schools, Quantico, Virginia, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, November 1, 1963. After completing OCS, he attended the Basic School at Quantico in December. He then commenced Naval Air Basic Training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, graduating in November 1964.
In January 1965, he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he served consecutively as a Platoon Commander of Company I, Executive Officer of headquarters and Service Company, and Commanding Officer of Company M. During this period he participated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Expedition to protect the lives of Americans during the uprising there in April-June 1965. While stationed at Camp Lejeune, he was promoted to First Lieutenant, May 1, 1965, and to Captain, September 1, 1966.
In November 1966, he joined 2nd Replacement Company, Staging Battalion, USMC Base, Camp Pendleton, California, for transfer to the Far East, Republic of Vietnam. Upon arrival in South Vietnam the following month, he joined 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced). He first served as Commanding Officer of Company H until January 1967, then as Commanding Officer of Company F, June 2, 1967, during Operation Union II at Quang Tin, he chose to remain with one of his men who could not be moved due to the seriousness of his wounds, and was himself mortally wounded.
He received the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was survived by his wife, Janice Graham and two children, John C. (born April 11, 1963) and Jennifer (born August 19, 1964). He was subsequently buried in Section 13 of Arlington National Cemetery.
"If a man ever deserved the Metal of Honor, Capt. Graham did. If not for this man and his actions on June 2, 1967 all of us would surely have died. The fire was so heavy, time seemed to stand still. I think of him often, God bless him forever."
--Thomas Searfoss, January 2000
Panel 21E -- Row 046
View Medal of Honor Citation
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