Merritt Dayton Graham of Circleville was a Chief Torpedoman’s Mate on the USS Grunion when it sank on July 30, 1942.
The submarine Grunion arrived at Pearl Harbor on June 20, 1942, where it participated in pre-patrol training until in left for patrol ten days later on June 30. The boat was ordered to patrol the Aleutian Island area off of the Alaskan coast and was under the command of Lt. Commander, Jim Abele.
The first conflict the Grunion faced was on July 15, when the ship was attacked by a Japanese destroyer. The crew fired three torpedoes at the enemy, all of which missed. Shortly after this encounter, Grunion was successful in sinking two patrol boats and damaging a third. Again on July 28, the submarine was attacked near Kiska Island. The crew fired two torpedoes which missed and were depth charged, but sustained no damage.
The final communication from the crew was received on July 30, 1942. The submarine had reported significant enemy activity near the Kiska Harbor. Due to the activity and being low on weaponry, the ship was ordered to return to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Due to the lack of communication, search planes and ships were sent out but reported no findings. On Aug. 16, 1942, the Grunion and its crew of 70 were reported lost as sea.
On Aug. 16, 2006, exactly 64 years after the Grunion was classified as missing, the ship was found ten miles northeast of Kiska Island. It is now known that it was sunk by the armed Japanese freighter of Kano Maru.
About Merritt Graham
Merritt Graham, a Circleville High School graduate, was born in 1900. He joined the United States Navy in 1918 during World War I and became involved with submarines. At age 42, Chief Petty Officer Graham was listed as Missing in Action as a result of The Battle of the Aleutian Islands. His name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was awarded the Purple Heart.