1st Lt. Terry Graves
KIA-16 February 1968

GRAVES, TERRENCE COLLINSON *


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant
U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company
3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division (Rein)
Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 16 February 1968
Entered service at: New York
Born: 6 July 1945, Corpus Christi, Texas

Citation:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a platoon commander with the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company. While on a long-range reconnaissance mission, 2ndLt. Graves' eight-man patrol observed seven enemy soldiers approaching their position. Reacting instantly, he deployed his men and directed their fire on the approaching enemy. After the fire had ceased, he and two patrol members commenced a search of the area, and suddenly came under a heavy volume of hostile small arms and automatic weapons fire from a numerically superior enemy force. When one of his men was hit by the enemy fire, 2nd Lt. Graves moved through the fire-swept area to his radio and, while directing suppressive fire from his men, requested air support and adjusted a heavy volume of artillery and helicopter gunship fire upon the enemy. After attending the wounded, 2ndLt. Graves, accompanied by another marine, moved from his relatively safe position to confirm the results of the earlier engagement. Observing that several of the enemy were still alive, he launched a determined assault, eliminating the remaining enemy troops. He then began moving the patrol to a landing zone for extraction, when the unit again came under intense fire which wounded two more marines and 2ndLt. Graves. Refusing medical attention, he once more adjusted air strikes and artillery fire upon the enemy while directing the fire of his men. He led his men to a new landing site into which he skillfully guided the incoming aircraft and boarded his men while remaining exposed to the hostile fire. Realizing that one of the wounded had not embarked, he directed the aircraft to depart and, along with another marine, moved to the side of the casualty. Confronted with a shortage of ammunition, 2ndLt. Graves utilized supporting arms and directed fire until a second helicopter arrived. At this point, the volume of enemy fire intensified, hitting the helicopter and causing it to crash shortly after liftoff. All aboard were killed. 2ndLt. Graves' outstanding courage, superb leadership and indomitable fighting spirit throughout the day were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."


On February 15, 1968, 2ndLt. Terry Graves led a 3rd Force Recon team of eight Marines on a walk-out from Dong Ha, heading east. Soon the patrol came across a small group of North Vietnamese Army soldiers. The patrol quickly set up an ambush and killed seven NVA. However, the first group of NVA was apparently an advance group of a much larger NVA infantry force. The patrol quickly found themselves surrounded by force of an estimated company size. Casualties quickly mounted among Graves' team. They suffered five killed, three wounded, and a helicopter shot down.
From Larry Vetter's "Never Without Heroes, Marine Third Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam, 1965-70:


 

"The bravery and sacrifice of one Reconner for another cannot be better shown than in the actions of Lieutenant Graves, Cpl. Danny Slocum, and Pfc. James Honeycutt. As one UH-34 tried to rescue the eight Marines and was overloading its capabilities while being shot full of holes by point-blank NVA fire, Lieutenant Graves, alone on the ground and under enemy fire, waved off the chopper. He knew the chopper would have a difficult enough time getting off the ground without him; it definitely would not make it with him. By himself, and already wounded, he stayed to defend the attempts to take off. Then the wounded Slocum and Honeycutt realized what the lieutenant was doing and jumped out of the bird to face what was likely to be their deaths also. They would die with their lieutenant in the hope that the others might make it. The pilot was reluctant to leave them, but with every second bringing more destruction to his metal bird, he lifted the shattered chopper into the air.

The chopper was able to return with the five Reconners, but three died of their wounds. Of the three who remained on the ground, only Danny Slocum survived. Posthumously, Lieutenant Graves received the Medal of Honor; James Honeycutt, the Navy Cross; and Cpl. Robert Thomson the Silver Star. Corporal Slocum and Doc Thompson also received the Silver Star. Five Reconners were killed, including Adrian Lopez and Steven Emrick, and three were wounded, including Michael Nation."