John George Graf

Lieutenant Commander
United States Navy
20 October 1927 - 01 February 1978
Glendale, California
Panel 16W Line 079

POW Medal

Naval Flight Officer

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John George Graf

24 Nov 2002

My POW/MIA bracelet says "LCDR JOHN GRAF 11-15-69". I can't find anything about him, I would very much like to know what happened to him. I've saved the bracelet all these years, hoping to give it to him or his family. If there is any way you can help, please let me know.

I would just like to say, "Thank you so much".

Nancy Harrison
570 Mohawk Ave, Akron, Ohio 44305

18 Nov 2003

I, too, wore a POW/MIA bracelet with LCDR John G. Graf on it. I would like his family to know that I still have that bracelet, and that they and he have remained in my thoughts and prayers all these years.

Now that I have sons in the US military (Army), I especially feel the pain of those who have lost family members.

I now pray for your peace and comfort and joy in the memory of a beloved son/father/brother.

God Bless,

Lois Brown Loar
Gibsonburg, OH 43431

22 Mar 2005

I had the privilege to fly with LCdr Graf and to call him friend. We flew out of Vung Tau on 3 or 4 occasions and I believe that is where he flew out of in the Mohawk. I was flying O-2's for the Air Force and he liked to fly in an observation role looking for signs in the Rung Sat area or the north part of the Delta. I was quartered in a hotel housing C-7 drivers but am not sure he was quartered there. We ate at the Navy chow hall on base as it was 10 times better than the Air Force chow hall. We went to movies and evening meals in downtown Vung Tau at an all ranks facility.

He was a good friend and counselor to a young 1st Lt. He is in my heart.

From a friend,
Les Moore
22988 Roundup Way, Apple Valley, Ca 92308

30 Apr 2005

Jack Graf was my best friend, my shipmate, my hunting, fishing, and drinking partner, and the finest guy I've ever known. We attended Naval Intelligence School together. He was an outstanding Naval officer and a true patriot. He volunteered to winter over at the South Pole and volunteered for duty in Vietnam. He had one ambition - serve his country and do it well. That he did, and he put up one helluva good fight right to the end. I know where he is, too. Save a seat up there for me, Jack.

From a friend and shipmate,
LCDR George O. Bernard, USN (Ret)

13 Jun 2005

I worked, lived, and drank with Jack Graf from 22 May, the day he arrived on-station in Vung Tau, until the Saturday morning in November when his and Lt. White's Mohawk was downed by ground fire. He served as Third Coastal Zone Intelligence Officer, or, as I'd painted on the windshield frame of our Jeep in International Signal Flags, 3CZIO. I was a Lieutenant Junior Grade and served directly under him as Asst. 3CZIO. His call sign was "Nobel Skill;" mine was "Nobel Skill Junior."

This was actually Jack's second Viet Nam tour. He had served a previous tour as a Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer (NILO) several years earlier, during which the pilot of the small observation aircraft in which Jack was riding as observer was killed by ground fire. Jack, never having flown an airplane before, unstrapped the stick from its stowage, inserted it into its socket between his knees, and got the airplane back to their village airstrip without the use of the rudder pedals.

I was on duty in the Coastal Surveillance Center preparing Cdr. Paul Yost's morning intelligence briefing when one of the PCFs (Swift Boats) under Yost's command radioed from the mouth of the Bassac River that they had just observed a Mohawk go down in flames several kilometers from their position. They reported seeing two fully deployed chutes and requested permission to enter a canal into hostile territory to retrieve the crew.

I knew, based on the location and timing, that this was Lt. White and LCDR Graf. I radioed the 73rd SACs commanding officer to advise that one of his aircraft was just reported lost on the coastal reconnaissance flight, and within minutes, quite literally, the air and waterways over and surrounding the area were bristling with air and watercraft. We had men on the ground within an hour, recovering the flight helmets and chutes. We questioned the local women and children (no males older than 8 or 9 were ever seen), who informed us that a handful of "soldiers" (VC) had captured the two Americans within moments of their landing and had led them away into the mangroves. The search continued for two more days, including continuous flare illumination throughout the night.

I returned to Coronado, California, the following March. Through my contacts remaining in-country, I was able to keep abreast of periodic intelligence reports regarding sightings, as well as several recovery attempts by the SEAL teams out of Cat Lo. In each attempt, evidence of the detention camp was fresh and bore indications of very recent abandonment--once by only hours. It wasn't until Lt. White was released in 1973 that we learned of Jack's ultimate fate.

From a war buddy,
Robert H. Melka

18 Jun 2005

John Graf joined the Navy as a recruit in 1945. He attended the Naval School of Photography at Pensacola and was assigned to Weather Recon Squadron One (VPW-1) as a S2PhoM. Advanced to PhoM3. Served in that unit from 4/46 until 7/47.

Enlisted career highlights: May, 1955 - Member Pacific Fleet Combat Camera Group as a Chief Photographer's Mate (PHC). He was in Hutchinson Kansas as a PHC in 1956 and had just been selected for commissioning as a Limited Duty Officer. He was the Chief Photo Mate of Operation Deep Freeze II in 1957 and was commissioned as an Ensign (LDO) while at Little America in 1958.

He completed Bombardier/Navigator training and flew as a B/N in an A-3D squadron at Sanford, Florida, as a Lieutenant (junior grade).

From a squadronmate, VPW-1, 1946/47,
Ted Shireman, ATC, USN Ret
El Monte Ca

26 Aug 2005

Over thirty years ago when I was in junior high, my dad, a Navy Chief Petty Officer, gave me a POW/MIA bracelet. I proudly wore the bracelet every day until it split in half. I have kept it safely tucked away in my childhood jewelry box with other special treasures from my youth. Often, I privately look through what I have saved and the bracelet inscribed "LCDR JOHN GRAF, 11-15-69" is the most treasured piece in the box. Although I did not know him, the bracelet made a connection. Learning about him and what is known to have happened still stirs the emotions within me, even 30-plus years later.

Suzy Hy Compton

20 Oct 2005

I too received my POW/MIA bracelet of Lt Cmdr John G. Graf when I was in Junior High School. A couple of years later I had placed a star on it to indicate POW. Years later my bracelet had broken in half as did my heart knowing he was still missing. I always looked for news as the lists of men were posted when they returned home. I even wrote his wife. Through the years and moves I lost my bracelet and his address but his name is always in my thoughts and prayers. I don't know what made me look it up now but am glad I did. Thank you all for the information and bond.

Sherri Schimmenti
Cranford, New Jersey

27 May 2006

On behalf of Eileen (Graf) Hook, CDR John Graf's sister, thank you for all of your kind words and prayers.

I am Eileen 's son-in-law, married to her daughter, Helene Hook.

CDR Graf's spouse, Anne, passed away in Florida in 1994. They had no children.

Jack Graf in 1951, with his mother, Virgie Graf, and his nephews, John, Chris, and Greg Hook, who are my wife's brothers.

Robert E. Connors
CDR, MSC, USN, Retired

15 Sep 2007

Due to the leadership of VADM Rex Rectanus, USN, Retired; Peter Decker, Steve Maxner, and JR Reddig, I learned that an Ad Hoc Committee was recently formed in 2007 to memorialize CDR John Jack Graf, USN (KIA), and to honor the Naval Intelligence Field Organization Vietnam (NavIntFOV). The plan is to place a memorial plaque at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC, which indicates that CDR Graf was

"the only Sailor, Officer, or Enlisted who was shot down twice, captured by the enemy, and killed during an escape attempt ... A Naval Intelligence Officer by experience, a Mustang by background, an aviator by training, and a Fleet sailor who braved the Antarctic gale in his time ... He is also a symbol of the American Sailor, officer and enlisted, who stood up to his brutal captors and gave the full measure of devotion while attempting to perform the final duty of a prisoner: escape."

Contributions may be made to help defray the cost of the plaque.

Send contributions in CDR Graf's name to:

Paul T. Haley, Director of Planned Giving
U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
701 Pennsylvannia Ave NW, #123
Washington, DC 20004-2608

or contact me for more information.

From the son-in-law of CDR Graf's sister Eileen Hook,
CDR Robert E. Connors, MSC, USN, Retired
20670 Stillpond Court, Ashburn, Va 20147

29 May 2006

I cannot recall ever seeing my father, a Vietnam Veteran, not wearing his POW/MIA bracelet. As a young kid, I was always intrigued by the bracelet and what it stood for. As I got older, my dad got a few and I picked one. Unfortunately, the irresponsible teenager that I was, I lost it and unfortunately never found it. I really wish I could remember the name... Eventually, I picked another bracelet from my dad's box, picking LCDR John G. Graf. I didn't wear the bracelet for some time, but started wearing it five years ago. Unfortunately, I've realized that few in my generation know about Vietnam except what they've seen in movies or read in history books. People always ask "Do I know him, is he someone important to you?" Thanks to the Web, I have learned so much from everyone who served with LCDR Graf and those who also wear the bracelet. I have come to consider LCDR Graf as a member of my family. He's important to me, as are the rest of our servicemen that are "Not to be Forgotten." I want to thank all of you on the Virtual Wall and other sites for your postings and service to our country. To his friends and family, I am proud to wear his bracelet.

John F

13 Nov 2006

Every day for about the last 10 years, I have worn the POW bracelet of LCDR John G. Graf. I proudly wear it as a sign of remembering the sacrifice and honoring him with the every-day reminder on my wrist. Most people in my generation don't know what it means (I'm 24) but I am asked about him often by people that remember Vietnam. They see that silver bracelet on my wrist and ask who he was. I'm honored to keep his memory alive. Until he comes home, I will wear this bracelet every day. It's spent many hours flying, scuba diving, and enjoying life. I take a little of his spirit with me in all my activities. I will never forget.

Heather McNevin

06 Jan 2007

I remember that day in November 1969. I was stationed at FICPAC in Hawaii and I had been notified that then LtCdr Jack Graff was down and could not be found. We were devastated. You see, I did not know him that well but I never saw him without a big smile. He brought joy and friendship to our team at FICPAC. I remember John Graf as if he spoke to me yesterday and I often think of that day.

From a friend who remembers,
Andy Lagin

20 Jan 2007

I too, have a bracelet which reads LCDR John Graf, 11-15-69. How many bracelets were made for this one serviceman? I have had mine since 1971.

Joanne Girou

16 Aug 2007

I was with him in February 1968 until he shipped out to RVN. The first division officer I ever had; he made me a better officer simply knowing him. I remember a day in early '68 when a young LT (Jack, too, was a LT, but a much older LDO) bet him he could beat him doing push ups - the other LT had played professional football before joining the USN to avoid the draft (like many of us). Jack beat him by 50 pushups.

He went back to RVN because he wanted a Silver Star.

He told the story of the time he was made an officer while a CPO on Operation Deep Freeze. -40F when he stumbled out of the Officer's Club to go to bed in the Chief's Quarters. All of his belongings were laying in the ice and snow, frozen solid - pee in the snow said, "You ain't a Chief no more!"

I could go on and on. I tossed his bracelet from the fantail of USS ENTERPRISE when White reported what the Vietnamese told him had happened to Jack - three times escaped, died crossing a raging river, last escape.

From a Boot Ensign.

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Lieutenant Commander John Graf, an intelligence officer, was assigned to the Naval Advisory Group. On 15 November 1969 he and then-Captain Robert White (73rd Aviation Company) were conducting a visual reconnaissance mission in an OV-1C Mohawk aircraft (tail number 61-2690). Their aircraft was hit by enemy fire and was observed by a U.S. Navy patrol boat to be on fire and descending. Both men escaped the burning aircraft, parachuting to the ground. Although an extensive air and ground search was conducted by allied forces, the two could not be found. White and Graf initially were classed as Missing in Action, but after reliable reports were received indicating that both men had been captured by the Viet Cong they were reclassified as prisoners of war.

Nothing more was heard of the two men until Major White was released by the Viet Cong on 01 April 1973 - the last American POW released during Operation Homecoming. During his debrief, White reported that he was held with Graf in various prison camps until late January 1970, when Graf escaped with another POW. Captain White never saw Graf after that, but he was told by his captors that Graf had drowned during his escape attempt.

Captured documents and post-war reports by former residents of the area supported what White had been told, and indicated that Graf's body had been recovered and buried somewhere in Vinh Binh Province.

His remains have never been recovered.

The US Naval Forces Vietnam Command History for November 1969 contains the following:

At 150757H the POINT GRACE (USCG WPB) vhile on normal Market Time patrol sighted a OV-1 (MOHAWK) crash and two parachutes about 19 miles southeast of Phu Vinh (XR 730 700) in the Long Toan Secret Zone. In addition to the pilot, an Army Lieutenant, the 73rd SAC aircraft carried the III Coastal Zone Intelligence Officer, LCDR John George Graf, USN, 181318/6632. At 0800H, OV-10 aircraft were scrambled from Binh Thuy and helo assistance was requested from the Vinh Binh sector Tactical Operations Center. The POINT GRACE recovered portions of the aircraft and then entered the canal with OV-10 and helo gunships overhead, to search for the personnel. The canal probe was completed at 1205H with negative results. A Vietnamese boy stated that he saw two Americans captured and agreed to lead troops to the capture point. At 1255H, two ejection seats were located. Troops were inserted at 1635H and, led by the VN boy, found one chute 200 meters from the ejection seats. A helmet and leggings were also recovered by the troops prior to their extraction at 1900H. Emergency beeper signals vere heard at various times throughout the day.

Surveillance and blockade operations continued throughout the night of 15-16 November. At 161030H, PSYOPS broadcasts were commenced offering a 100,000 piaster reward for return of the prisoners. At 1400 an ARVN battalion was inserted and one of the aircraft engines was located and salvaged. The remainder of the aircraft was destroyed.

The troops were extracted prior to darkness. A four unit blocking force with aircraft overhead was maintained throughout the night. Troop search and sweep operations were continued on 17 and 18 November with a blocking force being maintained at night. The search for the pilot and observer of the OV-1 MOHAWK was terminated at 191500H with negative results.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Nancy Harrison
570 Mohawk Ave, Akron, Ohio 44305

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 24 Nov 2002
Last updated 03/23/2008