GRAF, JOHN GEORGE
Name: John George Graf
Unit: Chief of Naval AD Group US MACV, South Vietnam
Date of Birth: 20 October 1927 (Los Angeles CA
Home City of Record: Glendale CA
Date of Loss: 15 November 1969
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 094036N 1063437E (XR730700)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert Thomas White (Released 1973)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project with the assistance of one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews: 15
March 1990. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2013.
REMARKS: DIED ESCAPING 7000215; W/WHITE, R
SYNOPSIS: John G. Graf was a Tactical Observer attached to Chief of Naval AD
Group, U.S. MACV, South Vietnam. On November 15, 1969, Graf was a crewmember
aboard an OV1C aircraft flown by U.S. Army Capt. Robert T. White on a visual
reconnaissance mission. The U.S. Army aircraft was hit by hostile ground
fire and crashed some 20 miles southeast of Tra Vinh City, Vinh Binh
Province, South Vietnam. Both the pilot and observer were observed by an
American Coast Guard unit to eject safely. A local villager reported that
National Liberation Front Forces captured both crewmen.
On March 29, 1973, the Viet Cong announced that White was to be released on
April 1. He was the last American in the repatriation program dubbed
"Operation Homecoming". In his debrief, Capt. White reported that he was
held with Graf in various prison camps until late January 1970, when Graf
escaped with another POW. Before his release, the National Liberation Front
area commander told White to inform the U.S. authorities that Graf had
drowned during an escape attempt in February 1970. Former residents of this
area also reported this story to officials and that his remains were buried
in the Long Toan area.
Viet Cong papers were found in a Viet Cong camp which contained the
interrogation reports of both LCdr. Graf and Capt. White. Other captured
documents stated that Graf had died in February 1970, and listed the
location of his grave in Vinh Binh Province.
Although information concerning LCdr. Graf is still classified, it was given
to the Vietnamese in hopes that they would be forthcoming with further
information about his fate. The Vietnamese continue to deny any knowledge of
Numerous declassified DIA documents indicate LCdr. Graf was sighted ALIVE at
least 18 times in captivity. Document 2 724 0397 73 from the 500 MI GP dated
23 May 73 speaks of a live sighting of Graf. Other documents indicate the
"drowning" was only a story related by the communisists.
Nearly 2500 Americans remain missing or otherwise unaccounted for in
Vietnam. Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports concerning these missing
Americans have been received by the U.S. Government. Many experts are
completely convinced that hundreds of Americans are now held captive.
One set of critics say that the U.S. has done little to address the issue of
live POWs, preferring the politically safer issue of remains return. Others
place the blame on the Vietnamese, for using the issue of POW/MIA to their
political advantage. Regardless of blame, no living American has returned
through the efforts of negotiations between the countries, and the reports
continue to pour in. Are we doing enough to bring these men home?
TRAN VAN TRA AND THE "LAST POW" (1973)
John G. Graf
On November 15, 1969, Commander Graf, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer, was
accompanying U.S. Army Captain Robert White on a flight south of Saigon.
Their aircraft was hit by hostile small arms fire and crashed along the
coast in Vinh Binh Province. Both crewmen parachuted to safety, were
captured by local guerilla forces, and held in a provincial level prison.
Both crewmen were initially reported as missing and then reclassified as
Commander Graf escaped from the prison circa February 1971 and was never
seen again by Captain White. Captain White survived in the Vinh Binh prison.
In 1972, a captured People's Army of Vietnam document from Military Region 3
in the southern Vietnam delta identified him as the only American POW in
captivity in the delta who had not been evacuated to the Region 3
Headquarters controlled prison in the U-Minh mangrove swamp in Kien Giang
Captain White's name did not appear on the Provisional Revolutionary
Government's list of Americans to be repatriated during Operation
Homecoming. Then, at the end of March 1973, People's Army of Vietnam General
Tran Van Tra advised U.S. officers with the Joint Military Commission that
Captain White had been omitted from the list and was to be repatriated. He
was released to U.S. officials on April 1, 1973, the last American POW
released during Operation Homecoming. Upon repatriation, he stated he was
led to believe during the war that Commander Graf was still alive but had
been told prior to his release that Commander Graf had died.
Wartime records recovered from the Vinh Binh area included the interrogation
reports of Captain White and Commander Graf. After Operation Homecoming,
Commander Graf was declared killed in action, body not recovered, based on a
presumptive finding of death.
U.S. investigators in Vietnam recently interviewed former staff of the
provincial prison who described Commander Graf's escape. His body was
recovered later and it was evident he had drowned. His body was buried in a
river bank which later eroded in flooding, washing away the area where his
body had been buried.
Documents such as this may be found in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential
Library at the University of Texas.
Editorial Note by Dr. Ernest Bolt
The list of which this is one entry furnishes the names of Vietnam War men
and women Missing in Action. Although he was reported later as having
drowned after his escape from prison, his remains had not been recovered
when this list was created.
This entry refers to Captain Robert White and General Tran VanTra and the
exchange of Captain White on April 1, 1973. Refer again to Tran Van Tra's
mention of "the last POW" in the related document in this module.
Subject: RE: Wrong category for John Geroge Graf,
Date sent: Wed, 3 Jul 2013 14:18:32 +0000
Reviewed case. Concur LCDR Graf was in captivity prior to escape.
changed PMSEA/Scrub status field from XX to KK (documented with an
explanation paragraph in Govt Info section of Scrub). Give the
while to run around in circles, and eventually should show up just like
Finch's did. Semper Fidelis, R