Francis Xavier McGraw, born on 29-04-1918 in New Jersey was an United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II. McGraw joined the Army from Camden, New Jersey, and by 01-11-1944 was serving as a private first class in Company H, 26th Infantry Regiment, nickname “Blue Spaders” of the 1st Infantry Division, nickname “The Big Red One” .
Death and burial ground.
During a German counterattack on that day, near Schevenhütte, Germany, he manned his machine gun despite intense enemy fire and left cover in order to retrieve more ammunition. Although wounded, he continued to fire his machine gun until again running out of ammunition. He then engaged the German troops with a carbine and was killed. For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on 25-10-1945. Private First Class McGraw’s official Medal of Honor citation reads: He manned a heavy machinegun emplaced in a foxhole near Schevenhutte, Germany, on 19-11-1944, when the enemy launched a fierce counterattack. Braving an intense hour-long preparatory barrage, he maintained his stand and poured deadly accurate fire into the advancing foot troops until they faltered and came to a halt. The hostile forces brought up a machinegun in an effort to dislodge him but were frustrated when he lifted his gun to an exposed but advantageous position atop a log, courageously stood up in his foxhole and knocked out the enemy weapon. A rocket blasted his gun from position, but he retrieved it and continued firing. He silenced a second machinegun and then made repeated trips over fire-swept terrain to replenish his ammunition supply. Wounded painfully in this dangerous task, he disregarded his injury and hurried back to his post, where his weapon was showered with mud when another rocket barely missed him. In the midst of the battle, with enemy troops taking advantage of his predicament to press forward, he calmly cleaned his gun, put it back into action and drove off the attackers. He continued to fire until his ammunition was expended, when, with a fierce desire to close with the enemy, he picked up a carbine, killed 1 enemy soldier, wounded another and engaged in a desperate firefight with a third until he was mortally wounded by a burst from a machine pistol. The extraordinary heroism and intrepidity displayed by Pvt. McGraw inspired his comrades to great efforts and was a major factor in repulsing the enemy attack. The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army the oldest division in the United States Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917. It was officially nicknamed the “The Big Red One” after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed “The Fighting First”. However, with typical soldier gallows humour, the division has also received troop monikers of The Big Dead One and The Bloody First as puns on the respective officially-sanctioned nicknames. It is currently based at Fort Rilley, Kansas. Other commanders Major General Terry de la Mesa Allen (see Allen) from August 42 – July 43, Major General Clarence R. Huebner (see Huebner) from July 43 – December 44, and Major General Clift Andrus (see Andrus), from December 44 – Augustus 46. Casualties during the European campaign, 4.411 killed in action, 7.201 wounded in action, 1.056 missing or died of wounds. Francis McGraw, aged 26 at his death, was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, Section A.