Robertson Graham

2nd Lt Robertson Bruce Graham was assigned to the 301st BG 353rd Squadron.

The following is a bio of my father; Robertson Bruce Graham, a B-17F pilot in the 301st BG, 353rd Bomb Sq. in North Africa during the period February 1943 - September 1943. © 2006 by Randolph B. Graham. Reprinted with permission. December 7, 1941 The bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry into WWII affected many people, young and old. Two young men effected were dad and his best friend Bob McDairmant. In a letter to me dated May 17, 1989, Uncle Bob relates that "When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, your dad and I were both 21 years old. The ensuing weeks were emotional times for men in our age group. I remember quite vividly, a week or so after Pearl Harbor, even though we were all warned that 'a slip of the lip might sink a ship', and we were having blackouts every night, your dad confided in me that he had seen a number of Navy enlisted men disembark at the Oakland terminal and they all had USS ARIZONA hat bands. Obviously they were survivors."
Bruce Graham as a Cadet in 1942 - 301st BG, Army Air Corps Library and Museum

Bruce Graham as a Cadet in 1942

Bruce Graham 2nd from left - 301st BG, Army Air Corps Library and Museum

Bruce Graham 2nd from left

Uncle Bob was attending Cal and working for a foundry in Emeryville and dad worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a mail clerk in Oakland. About this time, Uncle Bob says, "your dad and I decided that there was nothing else to do but join the fight and go win the war. But with a little money in our pockets from our jobs, and Christmas coming on, we decided to have a fling first."
Ladies Delight A/C 42-30136, in North Africa in 1943. Graham on the right. - 301st BG, Army Air Corps Library and Museum

Ladies Delight A/C 42-30136, in North Africa in 1943. Graham on the right.

Heller and Graham. - 301st BG, Army Air Corps Library and Museum

Heller and Graham.

December 7, 1941 The bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry into WWII affected many people, young and old. Two young men effected were dad and his best friend Bob McDairmant. In a letter to me dated May 17, 1989, Uncle Bob relates that "When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, your dad and I were both 21 years old. The ensuing weeks were emotional times for men in our age group. I remember quite vividly, a week or so after Pearl Harbor, even though we were all warned that 'a slip of the lip might sink a ship', and we were having blackouts every night, your dad confided in me that he had seen a number of Navy enlisted men disembark at the Oakland terminal and they all had USS ARIZONA hat bands. Obviously they were survivors." Uncle Bob was attending Cal and working for a foundry in Emeryville and dad worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a mail clerk in Oakland. About this time, Uncle Bob says, "your dad and I decided that there was nothing else to do but join the fight and go win the war. But with a little money in our pockets from our jobs, and Christmas coming on, we decided to have a fling first." Dad had a little green Ford Coupe and Uncle Bob had a turkey the foundry had given all employees for the holidays. They set out for Merced, having a few "pops" along the way and didn't get a very friendly greeting. Uncle Bob remembers coming into the house with the turkey slung over his shoulder and a Christmas Seal strategically placed on one end. During this trip home for the holidays, Uncle Bob continued to flirt with dad's sister, Elaine, whom he was eventually to marry. After a couple of days in Merced, Uncle Bob took dad to his hometown of Long Beach to meet some of his friends and family. Uncle Bob promised to get dad a date with the actress Lorraine Day. Although dad never got his date, he and Uncle Bob did go to the Palladium to see Tommy Dorsey and his band. They arrived early to watch them rehearse. Sinatra, the Pied Pipers, Jo Stafford, and Connie Hains were on stage. As Uncle Bob tells it, "on the dance floor - spectators just like us - were the Andrews Sisters and Lana Turner. This was pretty heady stuff for us." When Dorsey danced with Lana Turner, Sinatra led the band. Buddy Rich was on Drums, Ziggy Elmond on trumpet, Joe Bushkin on Piano. It was a last fling between friends before going off to war and being separated, perhaps, forever. They left Long Beach after a few days. By this time, Uncle Bob had received a telegram from his father saying, "Don't enlist...letter follows". So Uncle Bob's enlistment was postponed until he graduated from college. Dad, however, prepared for enlistment. He was promised entry into flight school and if he passed, he'd be able to fly planes for the war effort. If he didn't, he would be one of the army regulars. On January 28, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp. The next day, at 11:40 a.m., he boarded the Southern Pacific Railroad in Merced heading for Williams Air Field in Chandler, Arizona. Basic Training Dad reported to the Army Air Corps at Williams for basic training on February 4, 1942. As he describes it in his scrap books, "Williams Field was the huge reception center I was sent to upon appointment as aviation cadet...A hell hole if I've ever seen one...dust, wind, sun, heat and discipline". In a letter written after two days at camp, dad tells his grandmother Gran and his grandfather John R., "They've begun to put us into real training now. I feel more like a soldier every day. We have reveille at 5:40 a.m., and at 6:00 a.m., exercise and first mess. From 7 to 7:45 we have to make our bed and clean the barracks. From 7:45 to 10 we drill like hell. From 10 to 12 we have classes in military Discipline and Guard Duty. From 12 to 1 second mess. And 1 to 2 more drill in the hot sun. From 2 to 4 we save classes in math and Military Law. From 4 to 5 athletics and from 6 to 7 last mess. After mess our time is our own to see the post movie, or go to the PX, as long as we are in by 8:30. Lights off at 9:30. "We're usually so darn tired at night, that we go back to the barracks. It's very hot here in this desert and the sun really saps your strength. Our field is a new base, like Merced. The buildings are the same but about twice as many plus 100's of tents. God knows how many men are here but I imagine around 3,000 cadets, and 1,000 enlisted men, plus the required officers. "Also, there are 50 Chinese pilots here training for the Chinese Air Force. Small and very young. They are fine gentlemen and very disciplined. Upon speaking to an officer, they bow instead of salute. The officers in our company are really swell guys, but stand for no foolishness. As we are being trained for officers, it is necessary we be subjected to very strict discipline, and rigid formalities. "I understand we are due to leave for primary flight training around the 21st of this month. The sooner the better for me. I only hope I don't wash out. We really have a fine time cleaning up for inspection. Our beds have to be made military style with absolutely no wrinkles. Some job too on these darn cots we have for beds. Sunday is our recreation day. We get to sleep an hour longer - till 6:30 - and have no drills, or classes. Our time is our own. "The only thing I don't like is that we have to stand up at attention every time an officer comes into the room. Sometimes it's very aggravating because we're in comfortable positions. Once I had no clothes on at all. Very embarrassing...The food here is fine. Our rations are twice as much as anybody else's, therefore our food is twice as good." Dad passed basic and was accepted into flight school. He began primary flight school training at Thunderbird Field in Arizona on February 22, 1942. In a letter dated March 15, 1942 to Gran and John R., dad says, "I suppose you've heard I've done my solo flight finally - and with a flat tire! What a thrill! I was very disappointed at first but when the instructor said I had landed with a flat tire, it really made me feel good. He said that it was a wonder that I didn't ground loop! From now on, most of my flying will be solo work. They have already started to weed out the bad flyers. Hope they don't get me - pray for me!" Washing out prayed heavily on every cadet's mind. As the days passed, training got tougher and more demanding. More and more cadets washed out. A week later, in a letter dated March 20, 1942 from dad to Gran and John R., dad says "Just got down from dual instruction. Fridays are my bad days. If you remember last Friday, soloed on a flat tire - well, today in my solo, my motor went out on me, and I had to do a forced landing. My instructor said I did fine though. Sure felt funny when the darn motor quit though. They say that things happen in cycles of three - What's next? "I'll be an upperclassman a week from tomorrow at reveille. It's going to be swell to be the fellow looked up at, instead of down on. Hope I don't get washed. Some of the fellows have already gotten it. One guy in our room from Nebraska washed yesterday. Sure feel for him. Poor guy is taking it well though. He's going to try for a commission in bombardier now." In a letter two weeks later, dated April 3, 1942, dad writes again to Gran and John R. and talks about the privileges of being an upperclassman and the high rate of wash outs. He begins by saying, "Things are just about the same around here. Except we are dishing it out instead of taking it. I have 32 hours of flying time now. Soon will be having my 60-hour check I guess. Lots of my buddies have washed out this week. My very best friend, Art Bunnell, washed today. They are loosing out on an average of four a day now. We are quite fortunate to have the marvelous instructor we have. So far, he is the only one in our flight that has not had any wash outs. We are very proud of him and admire him greatly." This training was to

The following information on Robertson Graham is gathered and extracted from military records. We have many documents and copies of documents, including military award documents. It is from these documents that we have found this information on 2nd Lt Graham. These serviceman's records are nowhere near complete and we are always looking for more material. If you can help add to Robertson Graham's military record please contact us.

Rank Order Date Award Ribbon & Device

2LT

42

04/01/1943

AM

Air Medal (AM)

2LT

65

05/02/1943

AM/1OLC

Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

2LT

101

05/29/1943

AM/1OLC

Air Medal (AM) Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)

4/6/1943 Presidential Unit Citation
5/24/1943 PH/AM MIA
4/6/1943 Presidential Unit Citation


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