Raymond L. Graham Retires after 41 years Federal Service
by Winnie L. Smith
Brookley Air Force Base, Alabama
On March 2, 1967, Raymond L. Graham completed his third retirement, leaving Brookley Air Force Base with 41 years of federal service on his record. He already retired from the Navy with 23 years service in 1945 and he worked long enough between Naval and civil service to have social security retirement also.
A native of Piedmont Mo. Graham moved to Alabama as a child when his father went there with a lumber company in 19005. After a year or so at McShan and Gordo the final stopping place was B uhl, Alabama, where he remembers his first days in a one room school house. They end at Romulus where his father finally settled in 1915. He grew to manhood with a great desire for a navy career—old age security, he said.
He enlisted at 18 and remained to the end of World War II—October, 1945 and what he recalls is a “very adventurous life.”
At the time of his retirement he was a chief machinist’ mate. If he had been willing to go on for 30 years there would have been a commission, But Graham had set his sights on 20 years and the war had already kept him overtime and each year when recommended he declined the offer. He says the recommendations he has in possession are still mighty nice to look at.
Graham’s navy career brought him a wide variety of experiences, from teaching Diesel Engines at the Navy Diesel School at Champaign, Ill. University of Ill. 1942 to keeping the lights burning on the island of Saipan 1947-48. In civil service after retiring from the navy he was an “Engineman Snapper”, diesel maintenance man on Saipan which he helped keep the big diesel power plant in operation there.
In 1943 and 1944 Graham had his only assigned years of shore duty in his 23 year career. He was stationed at the navy repair at San Diego, Cal and after 3 months given the position of “leading chief” in charge of repair and overhaul of submarines. He held that position until his shore duty expired in November, 1944, after which his remaining years in the naval service were served at Pearl Harbor as a gang leader repairing and overhauling Surface Craft Diesels. Graham served on many types of navy ships. The longest time was on the battleship New Mexico over six years. Two cruisers, Huron, and Vincennes, aircraft carrier Saratoga, Aircraft tender Huholdt, destroyer tender, Melville, and the smallest boat of all at Washington, DC a 75 foot two stateroom yacht commonly called Barge. It belonged to the Honorable Henry L Roosevelt, Asst. Secretary of the Navy.
Graham was chief engineer from commissioning of the boat January 1934 to June 1936. When he secretary died.
Graham requested new construction and was assigned to the new cruiser Vincenne for fitting out and on board for duty when commissioned. On this he served 4+ years. It was on this heavy cruiser Graham recalls two pre-World War II trips in 1940 to Casablanca and Capetown for French gold, delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and from there carried to Fort KNOX BY ARMORED TRUCKS. Graham’s years at Brookley in the machine unit have been quieter and less exciting than his years in the Navy. They have been satisfying ones however and have contributed to his long range goal set before he came here in 1951 to prepare for the future.