Honoring Calvin Graham: The Youngest American WWII Veteran

Honoring Calvin Graham: The Youngest American WWII Veteran

It’s not just on holidays such as Veteran’s Day when it’s important to remember our veterans and thank a prior or current American servicemember. It is always an excellent time to show our support and appreciation for those who served and continue to serve our country. That’s why we take the time to spotlight veterans and show what these special people have done for our country. This article is about Calvin Graham, the youngest American WWII veteran.

Who is Calvin Graham?

Calvin Graham was born in 1930 in East Texas. At the age of 11, Calvin left home to live in a boarding house due to current unfavorable living conditions. He supported himself by selling newspapers. Calvin also delivered telegrams for income. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Calvin made the decision to enlist in the military. He was only 12 years old but was able to get through the initial recruitment process and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, which had lost many servicemembers by August 1942.

Calvin attended three weeks of boot camp and was assigned to the USS South Dakota. He was part of the USS Enterprise task force and saw his first battle at Guadalcanal. After that, the USS South Dakota engaged in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal and there were 40 killed and 180 wounded, including Calvin. He helped those who were injured and he himself had shrapnel injuries and had some teeth knocked out.

When Calvin and his fellow military members returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, media cameras showed him coming off the ship and his mother spotted him. When she complained to the U.S. Navy about allowing the enlistment of a 12-year-old boy, the military took Calvin’s medals away, gave him a dishonorable discharge, and sentenced him to the brig for three months.

In the years that followed, Calvin got married and divorced as a teenager. He was ultimately drafted and then served in the U.S. Marine Corps until he suffered a broken back and was no longer able to serve in the military. Calvin then sold magazine subscriptions but waged a fight to obtain an honorable discharge as his wounds from his service in WWII started to trouble him more.

In 1977, U.S. Senators Lloyd Bentsen and John Tower fought on his behalf. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter approved the discharge conversion from dishonorable to honorable. All of Calvin’s medals were restored except for the Purple Heart.

A made-for-television movie, Too Young the Hero, was released in 1988. The movie provided Calvin with some money as a result of his story. However, Calvin passed away in 1992. Two years later, Calvin’s Purple Heart medal was reinstated.

Why Calvin Graham’s Legacy Is So Important

Calvin Graham’s legacy shows that patriotism comes in all forms and by people of all ages. We don’t have to take the path Calvin took to show patriotism, and these days this would not be possible to do. What we can do is express our patriotism whenever possible and in a wide array of ways.

One way you can show your patriotism is to express your American pride and dress with our nation in mind. The Flag Shirt can help you outfit your wardrobe and let your patriotism shine. Visit theflagshirt.com website and add a patriotic vibe to your wardrobe today!

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