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Terry Graves

 

Date and Place of Birth: July 6, 1945 Corpus Christi, TX
Date and Place of Death:    February 16, 1968 near Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Catcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit:  3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division USMC
Area Served: Vietnam

Terrence C. "Terry" Graves, the son of Leslie and Marjorie Graves, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on July 6, 1945, and grew up in Gorton, New York, where his father, a former Navy officer, began a career in teaching and public school administration.

Terry attended Edmeston Central High School in Edmeston, New York, where his father was supervising principal, and starred in baseball, basketball and football, earning all-Otsego County honors in the former two sports. In 1962. he played basketball with the Warren Beverage Semi-Pros.

Graves graduated from high school in 1963 and attended Miami Univeristy, Ohio, on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. A hard-hitting catcher, he continued to play baseball in New York with town teams in Edmeston and Cooperstown, leading the latter to the Tri-County League championship in 1963.

Graves was a battalion commander in the Naval ROTC program at Miami, and played varsity baseball his junior year. He received a second lieutenant's commission in April 1967, won the American Legion Award for military excellence and the Bruce W. Card Memorial trophy for the top ranking senior Marine option student, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history and English.

Engaged to Miss Sylvia Beam of Louisville, Kentucky, Graves went straight into service with the Marines. He completed basic training at Quantico, Virginia, in November 1967, was commissioned a second lieutenant , and arrived in Vietnam in December 1967, assigned to the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. Two months after his arrival, team Box Score, consisting of six enlisted Marines and a corpsman under the command of 2nd Lt. Graves, participated in a reconnaissance mission northwest of Dong Ha. By the afternoon of the following day, the small recon team was engaged in heavy combat with two companies of the North Vietnamese Army.

Graves ordered his team to a new position for extraction while simultaneously calling for indirect fire support. Wounded in the thigh, he refused medical attention, ensuring, instead, that the corpsmen attend to the other wounded Marines.

Despite the heavy concentration of automatic and small arms fire, a helicopter managed to land to pick up the team of Marines. Realizing that one of the wounded Marines - Cpl. Danny Slocum - had not climbed aboard the helicopter, Graves jumped off the craft and ordered it to lift off without him.

One of the Marines who survived that afternoon, said, "What Lieutenant Graves did was the bravest thing I've ever seen."

Another Marine joined Graves prior to the helicopter lifting off, and the three men continued to fight. Low on ammunition, they moved to a new extraction point from where Graves continued to call for fire support until a second helicopter arrived. The trio boarded the second helicopter, but intensive enemy fire hit the craft and it crashed shortly after take off, killing all aboard except Slocum. Miraculously,Corporal Slocum managed to evade capture and was eventually rescued.

For his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, 2nd Lt. Graves was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military honor.

His parents, together with his fiancee, Sylvia, accepted the award on his behalf from vice-president Spiro T. Agnew in Washington on December 2, 1969.

Graves Hall at Quantico Marine Base was named in his honor in 1973. On July 7, 2001 a granite memorial was dedicated to him at the Groton Municipal Park, New York, from donations totalling $50,000. Donations came from all over the United States, particularly from Marines, and remaining funds not used in constructing the memorial went to the newly formed Terrence Graves Memorial Scholarship.

The Miami University NROTC unit has Graves' Medal of Honor and Citation on display in the Terry Graves Memorial Lounge in Millett Hall.

Lieutenant Graves is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Hamilton, New York.

Medal of Honor Citation
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Platoon Commander with the Third Force Reconnaissance Company, Third Reconnaissance Battalion, Third Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 February 1968. While on a large-range reconnaissance mission, Lieutenant Grave's eight-man patrol observed seven enemy soldiers approaching their position. Reacting instantly, he deployed his men and directed their fire on the approaching enemy. After the fire had ceased, he and two patrol members commenced a search of the area, and suddenly came under a heavy volume of hostile small arms and automatic weapons fire from a numerically superior enemy force.

When one of his men was hit by enemy fire, Lieutenant Graves moved through the fire-swept area to his radio and, while directing suppressive fire from his men, requested air support and adjusted a heavy volume of artillery and helicopter gunship fire upon the enemy. After attending the wounded, Lieutenant Graves, accompanied by another Marine, moved from his relatively safe position to confirm the results of the earlier engagement. Observing that several of the enemy were still alive, he launched a determined assault, eliminating the remaining enemy troops. He then began moving the patrol to a landing zone for extraction, when the unit again came under intense fire which wounded two more Marines and Lieutenant Graves. Refusing medical attention, he once more adjusted air strikes and artillery fire upon the enemy while directing the fire of his men. He led his men to a new landing site into which he skillfully guided the in-coming aircraft and boarded his men while remaining exposed to the hostile fire. Realizing that one of the wounded had not embarked, he directed the aircraft to depart and, along with another Marine, moved to the side of the causality.

Confronted with a shortage of ammunition, Lieutenant Graves utilized supporting arms and directed fire until a second helicopter arrived. At this point, the volume of enemy fire intensified, hitting the helicopter and causing it to crash shortly after liftoff. All aboard were killed.

Lieutenant Graves' outstanding courage, superb leadership and indomitable fighting spirit throughout the day were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Richard M. Nixon
President of the United States

2nd Lt. Terrence C. Graves

Terry Graves Memorial

2nd Lt. Terrence Graves' memorial at Groton Municipal Park, New York

Terry Graves Grave Marker

The grave marker of 2nd Lt. Terrence C. Graves at Woodlawn Cemetery, Hamilton, New York.

Date Added: May 30, 2015

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