Medal of Honor

Today in Military History – June 2nd – Vietnam Hero Wins Medal of Honor

Captain James A. Graham

Captain James A. Graham

Captain James A. Graham, United States Marine Corps.  For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer, Company F, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 2 June 1967.

During Operation UNION II, the First Battalion, Fifth Marines, consisting of Companies A and D, with Captain Graham’s company attached, launched an attack against an enemy occupied position, with two companies assaulting and one in reserve. Company F, a leading company, was proceeding across a clear paddy area, one thousand meters wide, attacking toward the assigned objective, when it came under heavy fire from mortars and small arms which immediately inflicted a large number of casualties.

Hardest hit by the enemy fire was the second platoon of Company F, which was pinned down in the open paddy area by intense fire from two concealed machine guns. Forming an assault unit from members of his small company headquarters, Captain 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, Captain Graham’s small force stood steadfast in its hard won enclave.

Subsequently, during the afternoon’s fierce fighting, he suffered two minor wounds while personally accounting for an estimated fifteen enemy killed. With the enemy position remaining invincible upon each attempt to silence it and with their supply of ammunition exhausted, Captain Graham ordered those remaining in the small force to withdraw to friendly lines, and although knowing that he had no chance of survival, he chose to remain with one man who could not be moved due to the seriousness of his wounds. The last radio transmission from Captain Graham reported that he was being assaulted by a force of twenty-five enemy; he died while protecting himself and the wounded man he chose not to abandon.

Captain 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 United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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