Graham, Calvin, SN

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Last Rank
Last Primary NEC
SN-9700-Seaman - Infantry, Gun Crews, and Seamanship Specialists
Last Rating/NEC Group
Primary Unit
1942-1943, USS South Dakota (BB-57)
Service Years
1942 - 1943
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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Kent Weekly (SS/DSV) (DBF), EMCS to remember Graham, Calvin (12 year old sailor), SN.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Not Specified
Last Address
Born in Canton, Tx, grew up in Crockett, Tx. Died in Fort Worth, TX

Date of Passing
Nov 06, 1992
Location of Interment
Not Specified
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Calvin Graham, 62, Who Fought in War As a 12-Year-Old 

Published: November 9, 1992

Calvin L. Graham, who gained attention as the boy who lied so he could enlist in the Navy at age 12 during World War II, died Friday in his house in Fort Worth. He was 62 years old.

He died of heart failure, said his stepson, Ronnie O'Donley.

The young Mr. Graham was a gunner on the U.S.S. South Dakota while it was buffeted by the Japanese in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. He was struck in the jaw and mouth by shrapnel while his battleship suffered 47 enemy hits. Though seriously wounded, he helped pull other crew members to safety.

The next year, the Navy discovered Mr. Graham's age. He became known to headline-writers as the "baby vet" after the Navy gave him a dishonorable discharge and revoked his disability benefits and his decorations, including a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Sought Return of Medals

In later years he struggled to get the decorations and the benefits back and to get an honorable discharge, retroactively. He was aided by political figures like the Senators Lloyd Bentsen, a Democrat, and John G. Tower, a Republican, both of Texas.

In a 1978 interview, Mr. Graham said the discharge program for Vietnam War deserters had given him a hope of getting his discharge at last. He said he "damn sure" deserved one more than a deserter did.

Eventually, he got the discharge, and won back all his decorations, except the Purple Heart. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that granted him disability benefits.

Mr. Graham, the youngest of the six children in a farm family, was born in Canton, Tex., grew up in Crockett, Tex., and quit school there to join the Navy. For years after the war he sold subscriptions to Life, Look and other magazines by telephone.

In addition to Mr. O'Donley, he is survived by his wife of 24 years, the former Mary Winfield O'Donley; a stepdaughter, Lora O'Donley, both also of Fort Worth; a step-granddaughter; and a sister, Eve Lue Sharman of Polk County, Tex.

Other Comments:
He enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 12.

If anyone has any other information about Calvin Graham please contact me..
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  1942-1943, USS South Dakota (BB-57)

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USS South Dakota (BB-57) Unit Page


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 USS South Dakota (BB-57) Details

USS South Dakota (BB-57)
South Dakota Class Battleship: Displacement 35,000 Tons, Dimensions, 680' 4" (oa) x 108' 2" x 36' 2" (Max). Armament 9 x 16"/45 16 x 5"/38AA, 12 x 1.1" 12 x 0.5", 3 AC. Armor, 12 1/4" Belt, 18" Turrets, 1 1/2" +6" +1/3" Decks, 15" Conning Tower. Machinery, 130,000 SHP; G.E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws. Speed, 27 Knots, Crew 1793. Operational and Building Data: Laid down by New York, Shipbuilding, Camden NJ., July 5 1939. Launched June 7 1941. Commissioned March 20 1942. Decommissioned January 31 1947. Stricken June 1 1962. Fate: Sold, October 25 1962 and broken up for scrap.

Surface Vessels


Parent Unit
South Dakota-class


Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2008
Memories For This Unit

Worst Moment
Wounded in action

Other Memories
- October 26 and 27, 1942, Battle of Santa Cruz Island; 500-pound bomb hit the #1 turret; Oct. 30, 1942 collision with Mahan (DD-364)
- NOvember 14 and 15, 1942, Battle of Guadacanal; heavy damage from 42 enemy hits while helping sink Japanese Battleship Kirishima
- February 1943 with Ranger (CV-4) in the North Atlantic; with the British Home Fleet until August, 1943; to Pacific Battle divisions 8 and 9 in November 1943

Length Overall: 680'
Extreme Beam: 108'2"
Standard Displacement: Tons: 35,000
Mean Draft: 29'3"
Designed Complement: Off.: 115
Enl.: 1678
(9) 16"/45
(16) 5"/38
(35) 20 mm
(7) quad 1.1"
Torpedo Tubes: none
Catapults: (2) aft
Armor : Belt: 12 1/4"
Turrets: 18"
Main: 1 1/2"
2nd (armor) deck: 6"
3rd (splinter) deck: 1/3"
Conning Tower: 15"
Designed Speed: 27
Designed Shaft Horsepower: 130,000
Engines: Manufacturer: GE
Type: Turbine. geared drive
Screws: 4
Boilers: Manufacturer: BW
No.: 8
Fuel (oil): Tons: 6950
Drive: TRD
The second SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57) was laid down on 5 July 1939 at
Camden, N.J., by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 7 June 1941;
sponsored by Mrs. Harlan J. Bushfield; and commissioned on 20 March 1942,
Capt. Thomas L. Gatch in command.
After fitting out at Philadelphia, SOUTH DAKOTA held shakedown training
from 3 June to 26 July. She stood out of Philadelphia Navy Yard on 16
August and headed for Panama. The battleship transited the Panama Canal
on 21 August and set course for the Tonga Islands, arriving at Nukualofa,
Tongatabu, on 4 September. Two days later, she struck an uncharted corral
pinnacle in Lahai Passage and suffered extensive damage to her hull. On 12
September, the ship sailed for the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard and repairs.
SOUTH DAKOTA was ready for sea again on 12 October and began training
with Task Force (TF) 16 which was built around aircraft carrier
ENTERPRISE (CV-6). The task force sortied from Pearl Harbor on 16 October
to join TF 17, which was centered on carrier HORNET (CV-8), northeast of
Espiritu Santo. The rendezvous was made on the 24th; and the combined
force, now operating as TF 61 under Rear Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, was
ordered to make a sweep of the Santa Cruz Islands and then move
southwest to block any Japanese forces approaching Guadalcanal.
"Catalina" patrol bombers sighted a Japanese carrier force at noon on the
25th, and TF 61 steamed northwest to intercept It. Early the next morning,
when all carrier forces were within striking range, a Japanese snooper
spotted the American force, triggering the Battle of Santa Cruz. SOUTH
DAKOTA and the ENTERPRISE group were approximately 10 miles from the
HORNET group when the air battle began.
The first enemy attack was concentrated against HORNET. At 1045, SOUTH
DAKOTA was operating near ENTERPRISE to provide protective fire from
her numerous antiaircraft guns when their group was attacked by dive
bombers. Approximately an hour later, about 40 torpedo planes struck at
the two ships. A third aerial assault, made by dive bombers and torpedo
planes; came in at 1230. SOUTH DAKOTA sustained a 500-pound bomb hit on
top of her number one turret. When the action was broken off that evening,
the American forces retired toward Noumea, New Caledonia, with the
battleship credited with downing 26 enemy planes.
At 0414 on 30 October, while avoiding a submarine contact, SOUTH DAKOTA
and MAHAN (DD-364) collided, causing damage to both ships. MAHAN's bow
was turned to port and crumpled to frame 14, and a fire, soon brought
under control, started in her forward hold. Both ships continued to Noumea
where VESTAL (AR-4) repaired SOUTH DAKOTA's collision and battle
On 11 November, SOUTH DAKOTA, as part of TF 16, sortied from Noumea for
Guadalcanal. On 13 November, she joined battleship WASHINGTON (BB-56)
and destroyers PRESTON (DD-379), WALKE (DD418), BENHAM (DD-397), and
GWIN (DD-433) to form TF 64 under command of Rear Admiral W. A. Lee.
The next evening at 2330, the
force was operating 50 miles southwest of Guadalcanal when Lee learned
that an enemy convoy was coming through the passage off Savo sometime
between 0030 and 0230. This was Admiral Kondo's bombardment group
consisting of battleship KIRISHIMA; heavy cruisers TAKAO and ATAGO; and
a destroyer screen.
Admiral Kondo's forces were divided into three sections: the bombardment
group; a close screen of cruiser NAGARA and six destroyers; and a distant
screen of cruiser SENDAI and three destroyers in the van of the other
forces. A quarter moon assured good visibility. Three ships were visually
sighted from the bridge of SOUTH DAKOTA, range 18,100 yards.
WASHINGTON fired on the leading ship, thought to be a battleship or heavy
cruiser; and, a minute later, SOUTH DAKOTA's main battery opened on the
ship nearest to her. Both initial salvos started fires on the targets. SOUTH
DAKOTA then fired on another target and continued firing until it
disappeared from her radar screen. Turret No. 3-firing over her stern and
demolishing her own planes in the process-opened on another target and
continued firing until the target was thought to sink. Her secondary
batteries were firing at eight destroyers close to the shore of Savo Island.
A short lull followed after which radar plot showed four enemy ships, just
clear of the left tangent of Savo, approaching from the starboard bow;
range 5,800 yards. Searchlights from the second ship in the enemy column
illuminated SOUTH DAKOTA. WASHINGTON opened with her main battery on
the leading, and largest, Japanese ship. SOUTH DAKOTA's secondary
batteries put out the lights; and she shifted all batteries to bear on the
third ship, believed to be a cruiser, which soon gushed smoke. SOUTH
DAKOTA, which had been under fire from at least three of the ships, had
taken 42 hits which caused considerable damage. Her radio communications
failed; radar plot was demolished; three fire control radars were damaged;
there was a fire in her foremast; and she had lost track of WASHINGTON. As
she was no longer receiving enemy fire and there were no remaining
targets, she withdrew; met WASHINGTON at a prearranged rendezvous; and
proceeded to Noumea. Of the American destroyers, only GWIN returned to
port. The other three had been severely damaged early in the engagement.
WALKE and PRESTON were sunk. BENHAM had part of her bow blown off by a
torpedo and, while en route to Noumea with the damaged GWIN as her
escort, had to be abandoned. GWIN then sank her by gunfire. On the enemy
side, hits had been scored on TAKAO and ATAGO; KIRISHIMA and destroyer
AYANAMI, severely damaged by gunfire, were abandoned and scuttled.
PROMETHEUS (AR-3) repaired some of the damage inflicted on SOUTH
DAKOTA at Noumea, enabling the battleship to sail on the 25th for
Tongatabu and thence for home. SOUTH DAKOTA arrived at New York on 18
December 1942 for an overhaul and the completion of repairs to her battle
damage. She was back at sea on 25 February 1943 and, following sea trials,
operated with RANGER (CV-4) in the North Atlantic until mid-April.
The battleship next operated with the British Home Fleet, based at Scapa
Flow, until 1 August when she returned to Norfolk. On 21 August, SOUTH
DAKOTA stood out of Norfolk en route to Efate Island, arriving at Havannah
Harbor on 14 September. She moved to Fiji on 7 November and sortied from
there four days later with Battleship Divisions (BatDiv) 8 and 9 in support
of Task Group (TG) 50.1, the Carrier Interceptor Group. for Operation
"Galvanic," the Gilbert Islands assault. The carriers launched attacks
against Jaluit and Mili atolls, Marshall Islands, on 19 November, to
neutralize enemy airfields there. The force then provided air support for
the amphibious landings on Makin and
Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.
SOUTH DAKOTA, with five other battleships, formed another task group on
B December to bombard Nauru Island. A joint aerial attack and shore
bombardment severely damaged enemy shore installations and airfields
there. SOUTH DAKOTA retired to Efate on 12 December 1943 for upkeep and
rearming. Her next action occurred on 29 January 1944 when the carriers
launched attacks against Roi and Namur, Marshall Islands. The next day, the
battleship moved in to shell enemy positions on Roi and Namur and then
rejoined the carriers as they provided air support for the amphibious
landings on Kwajalein, Majuro, Roi, and Namur.
SOUTH DAKOTA departed the Marshall Islands on 12 February with the Truk
striking force which launched attacks against that Japanese stronghold on
17 and 18 February. Six days later, she was in the screen for the carriers
which launched the first air attacks against the Marianas. The force was
under constant enemy air attack, and SOUTH DAKOTA splashed four
Japanese planes. She returned to Majuro from 26 February until 22 March
when she sailed with the fast carrier forces of the of the 5th Fleet. Air
strikes were delivered from 30 March until 1 April against Palau, Yap,
Woleai, and Ulithi in the Western Caroline Islands.
SOUTH DAKOTA returned to Majuro on 6 April and sailed the following
week, again accompanying the fast carriers. On 21 April, strikes were
launched against Hollandia, New Guinea, and the following day against
Aitape, Tanahmerah, and Humboldt Bays to support the Army landings. On
29 and 30 April, the carriers, with SOUTH DAKOTA still in the screen,
returned to Truk and bombed that base. The next day, the battleship was
part of a surface bombardment group that shelled Ponape Island in the
Carolines. She returned to Majuro for upkeep from 4 May to 5 June when she
got underway with TF 58 to participate in Operation "Forager," the landings
on Saipan and Tinian. The carriers began launching attacks on the 11th
against enemy installations throughout the islands. On the 13th, SOUTH
DAKOTA and six other battleships were detached from the fast carrier
groups to bombard Saipan and Tinian, SOUTH DAKOTA shelled the northwest
coast of Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, for over six hours with both her primary
and secondary batteries.
On the evening of the 15th, 8 to 12 enemy fighters and bombers broke
through the combat air patrol and attacked the task group. SOUTH DAKOTA
fired at four and splashed one; and the remaining 11 were shot down by
fire from other ships. On 19 June, the battleship was again operating with
the fast carriers. It was known that a major Japanese force was
approaching from the west, and the American capital ships were placed so
that they could continue to support the ground forces on Saipan and also
intercept this enemy force.
At 1012, a large group of bogies was reported coming in from the west. At
1049, a "Judy" dropped a 500-pound bomb on SOUTH DAKOTA's main deck
where it blew a large hole, cut wiring and piping, but inflicted no other
serious material damage. However, personnel losses were heavy: 24 killed
and 27 wounded. The ship continued to fight throughout the day as air
attacks were continuous. This was the first day of the Battle of the
Philippine Sea and was called the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" as the Japanese
lost over 300 aircraft. The air battle continued throughout the 20th. When
it ended, the badly mauled Japanese fleet no longer posed a threat to the
American conquest of the Marianas. The task group returned to Ulithi on 27
June, and SOUTH DAKOTA sailed via Pearl Harbor to the west coast,
arriving at Puget Sound on 10 July.

The battleship was overhauled at the navy yard there; and, after sea trials,
sailed on 26 August for Pearl Harbor. SOUTH DAKOTA was routed to Ulithi
and, upon her arrival, was attached to TG 38.3; one of four task groups of
formed Task Force 38, the Fast Carrier Task Force. The task force sortied
on 6 October and, four days later, launched air attacks against Okinawa. On
the 12th and 13th, attacks were flown against shipping and installations
in Formosa. Three of the groups, including SOUTH DAKOTA's, retired and
operated east of the Philippine Islands until 24 December. During the
operation, carriers of the group flew strikes against targets on Manila and
Luzon to support the landings on Mindoro. From 30 December 1944 through
26 January 1945, the fast carriers alternated strikes between Formosa on
3, 4, 9, 15, and 21 January; Luzon on the 6th and 7th; Cape San Jacques and
Camranh Bay on the 12th; Hong Kong and Hainan on the 16th; and against
Okinawa on 22 January.
SOUTH DAKOTA operated with the fast carriers in their strikes against the
Tokyo area on 17 February and against Iwo Jima on the 19th and 20th in
support of amphibious landings there. Tokyo again was the target on the
25th, and Okinawa's turn came on 1 March. After rearming at Ulithi, the
task groups sailed toward Japan again and pounded targets in the Kobe,
Kure, and Kyushu areas on 18 and 19 March. They launched strikes against
Okinawa on the 23d; and, on the 24th, the battleship joined a bombardment
group which shelled southeastern Okinawa. She rejoined her task group
which, after bombing Okinawa, struck enemy airfields in southern Kyushu
on the 29th and then, from 31 March through 3 April, again pounded targets
on Okinawa. On 7 April, all fast carriers launched attacks against an enemy
fleet off southwest Kyushu, sinking Japan's fast super battleship YAMATO,
two cruisers, and four destroyers.
SOUTH DAKOTA once more participated in shore bombardment on
southeastern Okinawa on 19 April in support of an all-out offensive by the
XXIV Army Corps against enemy lines.
While rearming from WRANGELL (AE-12) on 6 May, a tank of 16-inch high
capacity powder exploded, causing a fire and exploding four more tanks.
Turret No. 2 magazines were flooded and the fires put out. The ship lost
three men killed instantly; eight more died of injuries; and 24 others
suffered non-fatal wounds. The ship retired to Guam from 11 to 29 May
when she sailed for Leyte, arriving on 1 June.
SOUTH DAKOTA departed Leyte on 1 July, supporting the carriers of TG 38.1
which attacked the Tokyo area on the 10th. On 14 July, as part of a
bombardment group, she participated in the shelling of the Kamaishi Steel
Works, Kamaishi, Honshu, Japan. This was the first gunfire attack on the
Japanese home islands by heavy warships. From 15 through 28 March,
SOUTH DAKOTA again supported the carriers as they launched strikes
against Honshu and Hokkaido. On the night of 29 and 30 July, she
participated in the shore bombardment of Hamamatsu, Honshu, and, on the
9th, again shelled Kamaishi. The battleship supported the carriers in
strikes against northern Honshu on 10 August, and in the Tokyo area on the
18th and 15th. The latter was the last strike of the war for, later that day,
Japan capitulated.
She anchored in Sagami Wan, Honshu, on 27 August and entered Tokyo Bay
on the 29th. SOUTH DAKOTA steamed out of Tokyo Bay on 20 September and
proceeded, via Okinawa and Pearl Harbor, to the west coast of the United
States. On 29 October, she moved down the coast from San Francisco to San
Pedro. She sailed from the west coast on 8 January 1946 for Philadelphia
and a yard
overhaul. In June, she was attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. On 31
January 1947, she was placed in reserve, out of commission. The
battleship remained in that status until she was struck from the Navy list
on 1 June 1962. On 25 October 1962, she was sold to Lipsett Division,
Luria Bros. and Co., Inc., for scrap.

SOUTH DAKOTA received 13 battle stars for World War II service.

My Photos For This Duty Station
USS South Dakota (BB-57)
USS South Dakota (BB-57)
USS South Dakota (BB-57)
USS South Dakota (BB-57)
13 Members Also There at Same Time
USS South Dakota (BB-57)

McCormick, Lynde Dupuy, ADM, (1915-1956) Rear Admiral Lower Half
Gatch, Thomas Leigh, VADM, (1912-1947) Captain
Arthur, Edwin, CDR, (1940-1946) Lieutenant
Hansen, William, PO3, (1942-1945) Seaman Apprentice
Maday, Lawrence J., SN, (1943-1946) Seaman Recruit
GLEISTEN, HOWARD, CAPT, (1939-1965) OFF 220X Lieutenant
Semmes, Raphael, CAPT, (1938-1967) OFF 131X Lieutenant
Lesher, David R., (1943-1945) BG BUG-0000 Other Service Rank
Samms, Floyd Tamerlane, LT, (1938-1967) YN YN-0000 Chief Petty Officer
Barry, John (Jack), PO1, (1942-1947) EM EM-0000 Petty Officer First Class
Heggen, Thomas, LT, (1942-1945) .Q Sp(Q) Petty Officer Second Class
Stein, William, PO2 PhM PhM-0000 Petty Officer Second Class
Haas, George Henry, S1c, (1942-1944) S1c S1c-0000 Seaman 1st Class

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