Medal of Honor





Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division


Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 2 June 1967


Entered service at: Prince Georges, Maryland


Born: 25 August 1940, Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania




For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. During Operation Union II, the 1st Battalion, 15th Marines, consisting of Companies A and D, with Capt. Graham's company attached launched an attack against an enemy occupied position with 2 companies assaulting and 1 in reserve. Company F, a leading company, was proceeding across a clear paddy area 1,000 meters wide, attacking toward the assigned objective, when it came under fire from mortars and small arms which immediately inflicted a large number of casualties. Hardest hit by the enemy fire was the 2nd platoon of Company F, which was pinned down in the open paddy area by intense fire from 2 concealed machine guns. Forming an assault unit from members of his small company headquarters, Capt. Graham boldly led a fierce assault through the second platoon's position, forcing the enemy to abandon the first machine gun position, thereby relieving some of the pressure on his second platoon, and enabling evacuation of the wounded to a more secure area. Resolute to silence the second machine gun, which continued its devastating fire, Capt. Graham's small force stood steadfast in its hard won enclave. Subsequently, during the afternoon's fierce fighting, he suffered 2 minor wounds while personally accounting for an estimated 15 enemy killed. With the enemy position remaining invincible upon each attempt to withdraw to friendly lines, and although knowing that he had no chance of survival, he chose to remain with 1 man who could not be moved due to the seriousness of his wounds. The last radio transmission from Capt. Graham reported that he was being assaulted by a force of 25 enemy soldiers; he died while protecting himself and the wounded man he chose not to abandon. Capt. Graham's actions throughout the day were a series of heroic achievements. His outstanding courage, superb leadership and indomitable fighting spirit undoubtedly saved the second platoon from annihilation and reflected great credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Naval service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


Thomas Searfoss < >writes on 9 January 2000:

"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."



James A. Graham 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 transferrd 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 Commnding Officer of Company F, January 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 Grahm 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.

 --- General / Personal ---


Last name: GRAHAM

First name: JAMES ALBERT

Home of Record (official): FROSTBURG

State (official): MD

Date of Birth: Sunday, August 25, 1940

Sex: Male

Race: Caucasian

Marital Status: Married


--- Military ---


Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: CPT

Serial Number: 088847

Component: Regular

Pay grade: O3

MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code): 0302


--- Action ---


Start of Tour: Unknown/Not reported

Date of Casualty: Saturday, June 3, 1967

Age at time of loss: 26

Casualty type: (A1) Hostile, died

Reason: Gun, small arms fire (Ground casualty)

Country: South VietNam

Province: Quang Tin

The Wall: Panel 21E - Row 046

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