Graham, Ephraim F., Jr. (644th)

Ephraim F. Graham 1Ephraim F. Graham, Jr. 

Biography:  Ephraim Foster Graham, Jr. was born on September 9, 1913, in Virginia. He was the son of Ephraim Foster Graham Sr. and Fanny DeRussy Hoyle.

He was the fourth generation in his family to attend the United States Military Academy, which included his great-grandfather, René Edward De Russy, who was a General during the American Civil War and was responsible for construction of many forts along the east coast of the U.S. René also served as Superintendent of West Point.

Ephraim’s grandfather, General Eli D. Hoyle served in the Spanish-American war and his father, Lt. Col. Ephraim F. Graham Sr. was a cavalry officer and Olympic horseman.

Ephraim Jr., “Eph”, as he was known at West Point, entered the school from San Antonio, Texas, while his father was stationed at Fort Sam Houston. He was identified as being one of the “best-rounded” men in his class, being good-natured, witty, confident and very determined. He graduated in 1937.

He married the former Dorothy “Dottie” Easterbrook, who was born at Fort Stotsenberg, whiich was located in Manilla, the Philippines, and was the daughter of Col. Charles Allen Easterbrook and Margaret Bell. Ephraim had met Dottie at a dance held at Fort Sam Houston, which was where her father was stationed at the time. The new couple would have a daughter, Margaret, born in 1941.

Service Time: Ephraim commanded the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion during WWII. On December 15th, 1941, the 44th Antitank Battalion (Provisional), while stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey, was redesignated as the 644th. The unit trained within the U.S. and then shipped out from the New York port on January 2, 1944, arriving in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on January 11th.

Ephraim F Graham Jr. 2The unit would train for an additional six months before being loaded on transports and landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, France, on July 11th and 12th, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They were committed to battle south of Le Haye Du Puits, with the 8th Infantry Division, on the 15th and participated in the Cobra breakout beginning on the 26th. The 644th advanced into Brittany in August and helped capture Brest in early September. Moving to Luxembourg in late September, they fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November.

Companies A and C moved to the northern Ardennes sector by early December and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, with Company B arriving late in the game. Joining the elimination of the Bulge in early 1945 and the Roer River offensive in February, they reached the Rhine River south of Cologne in March and crossed at Remagen, supporting the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket in April. The unit swung eastward to the Elbe River and rolled toward the Baltic coast with the 82d Airborne Division, stopping in Schwerin.

The 644th received credit for five campaigns including Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Ephraim received two Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars and the 644th received a Distinguished Unit Citation as well as the Croix De Guerre for their efforts. Lt. Col. Ephraim F. Graham Jr. led the unit through most of their training and all of their time in combat.

Ephraim F Graham Jr 6Ephraim remained in the service and he and Dottie had a second daughter, Susan. He was called on to serve as Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry Division during the Korean War. When he attended paratrooper school, he was the oldest in his class but he was also one of the youngest officers to be promoted to Brigadier General.

While stationed in Germany, he commanded the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment and was tasked with guarding the Fulda Gap to protect Europe from a possible Soviet attack. He commanded the 7th Armored Training Center and also for the 4th Armored Division as their Assistant Division Commander. At the end of his career, he was sent back to Fort Hood, TX, and became Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General for the III Corps, which was stationed there.

After his retirement from the military, he stayed near Fort Hood and became Vice President of the National Bank there. He was also elected head of the Killeen Chamber of Commerce Civic Improvement Committee.

Ephraim F Graham Jr.4

He later moved back to San Antonio, TX, for his later years and passed away on September 15, 2003. He and Dottie had been married for 65 years. He was buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX. 

I want to thank E-Yearbook.com for the photo of Ephraim as a cadet at West Point. The photo is used by permission of Digital Data Online, Inc. Much of the information was gathered from Ephraim’s obituary in the San Antonio Express-News.