Cecil H. Grahem
Biography: Cecil Hamon Grahem was born on June, 21, 1919, in Arrington, Kansas. He was the son of Newton Francis Grahem and Dora Hamon and attended Woodville School through the grammar level. Census records from 1940 show him working on the family farm.
Service Time: Cecil entered the service at Fort Leavenworth, KS, in January 1942, and after his basic training, he was assigned to Company C of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 893rd was the first unit to arrive at the newly established TDC (Tank Destroyer Center) at Camp Hood, Texas and their soldiers were utilized as Tank Destroyer School Troops. The 893rd would contribute hundreds of men to the various units that passed through the TDC.
The unit moved to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in early 1943, and participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers. In December, they received orders to proceed to the New York port and prepare for shipment overseas. They departed from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on January 20th.
After months of additional training and preparations, they boarded transports and landed at the Omaha beachhead in Normandy, France, on July 1st, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They were committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye and advanced to Paris by August 25th. They then proceeded to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel along the Belgian-German border.
Unit records indicate that during September, Company C was attached to the 22nd Infantry Regiment and at various times during the month, were in direct action against the enemy. They were in a mined and booby-trapped area which took the lives of a number of men. One story from the 893rd history identifies that on September 11th, Lt. Izzo with two destroyers, commanded by Sgt. Dinini, and Sgt. Grahem, went on a patrol with about 25 Infantrymen from the 22nd Regiment. Their mission was to go into Germany and bring back some dirt for the Division Commander. The men crossed the border near Elcherath, Germany, and took the town, returning with two bags of German soil. They were the first U.S. troops to enter Germany.
On September 24th, Sergeant Cecil H. Grahem was killed by artillery fire while attacking a pillbox, somewhere on the Siegfried Line, in Germany. This information was provided to Cecil’s brother in a letter from Captain Marion C. Pugh, who was one of the unit’s officers. A second letter was received in May 1945, from Major General James A. Ulio, the Adjutant General of the Army. His letter presented the Bronze Star awarded posthumously to Sergeant Cecil H. Grahem (Armored). It read:
“For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy on 24 September 1944 in the vicinity of ******. The first platoon of Company C was assigned the mission of neutralizing several German pillboxes and machine gun nests. After the first destroyer neutralized the fire from the pillbox, Sergeant Grahem moved his destroyer into position to fire at several machine gun positions. He then remained in his exposed position to fire in direct support of the infantry and permit the first destroyer to withdraw. Upon completion of the mission, Sergeant Grahem voluntarily brought fire to bear on the pillbox to prevent any counter move against the infantry. As he observed his fire and movement of the infantry, artillery fire mortally wounded him. His determined devotion to duty at the risk of his own life was in accordance with the highest military traditions.”
Cecil was initially buried in the Henri-Chapelle Military Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium and later brought back to the U.S. and re-interred in the Valley Falls Cemetery, Valley Falls, Kansas. I want to thank Cecil’s niece, Penny, for providing the information and photos of him used in this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor Raymond Riley for use of the grave marker photo.