Archive Page - 08/16/13 41 years, 2,173 covers and 55,054 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Duff Goldman's Ice Cream Burritos Are Everything We Want for the Super Bowl, and In Life
- The Style Top 5: Sarah Jessica Parker Brings Her Shoe Line to Zappos, Katy Perry Preps for the Super Bowl and More
- Mother Pleads Guilty to Assault After She Claimed for Years Her Daughters Suffered from Severe Health Problems
- Which Fellow Country Singer Is Keith Urban Crushing On?
- Jennifer Grey on Her Dad Joel Grey's Coming Out: 'I Feel Very Happy' for Him
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Friday January 30, 2015 07:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 24, 1977
- Vol. 8
- No. 17
The Navy's 'Baby' Hero Who Won the Bronze Star at 12 Now Wants Justice from the Nation He Served
Several months earlier Graham, one of seven children, had left home in Houston, Texas after telling his widowed mother that he was going to visit relatives. "I enlisted with some of my friends from junior high school," he remembers. "I stood 5'2" and weighed 125 pounds, but I wore one of my older brothers' clothes and we all practiced talking deep. The Navy knew we were underage, but we were losing the war then, so they took six of us."
Incredibly, when the Navy discovered Graham's real age, it tossed him in the brig in January 1943. "They took my uniforms and all my medals," he says. "But after a few months I guess somebody got mad about a kid being in jail. They let me out on my 13th birthday."
Back in Houston, Graham got a hero's welcome as the "baby vet," including a parade down Main Street with movie star Pat O'Brien. Since then neither time nor the government has treated Graham kindly. Despite recurring headaches and chronic problems with his war-damaged teeth, he was refused Navy medical treatment and has never received the honorable discharge that would entitle him to the full range of veterans' benefits. He remembers vividly a 1944 telephone conversation with President Franklin Roosevelt arranged by a congressman. "He had a real warm, friendly voice," Graham recalls. "He said I was a hero, and he was going to see to it that I not only got my medals back, but that I also got the Navy Cross and an honorable discharge." Unfortunately, FDR died before keeping his word.
Now 47 and unable to work, Graham has spent some $5,000 on dental repairs, and suffers also from diabetes and heart trouble. As a result of a fall from a pier while serving briefly in the Marines at 19, he can walk only with a cane. He and his wife exist on $600 a month—part of which comes from limited Marine disability payments—and must spend $100 a month on his doctor bills.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas has introduced a bill to give Graham his long-sought discharge, but it is languishing in the Armed Services Committee. "I wouldn't ask for it if I didn't need it," says Graham plaintively. "It's not like I did anything wrong."
January 30, 2015
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!