Australian seafearer John Graham – a close friend of Vietnam

Saturday, 03/09/2022 10:45
One of the key factors behind the ultimate victory of the Vietnamese revolution in 1975 was the widespread and strong support shown by international friends, including John Graham, a seafarer living in Australia.
John Graham is one of the crew members of the Boonaroo openly speaking out against the US war in Vietnam. 

John was deeply displeased following a trip to Vietnam where he witnessed firsthand how many innocent civilians were falling victim to the war waged by the United States. Shortly upon returning to Australia, he decided to take action by launching up an anti-war campaign in an attempt to help Vietnam garner widespread support from international friends, not only in Australia, but also from around the world.

Such an anti-war campaign can be considered a very important contribution to the victory of the Vietnamese revolution in 1975. Due to the strong campaign, many people all around the world became aware of the horrors caused by the conflict and began to refuse to support the presence of American and Western soldiers in Vietnam. Indeed, the campaign gradually attracted more supporters and was led to a global anti-war movement that demanded both the US and its allies withdraw their troops from the country.

In Australia, the movement against the war began in 1965 when hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, and the Seamen’s Union of Australia (SUA) was an important force behind demonstrations.

The SUA was primarily made up of strong young people who carried out a range of practical activities aimed at opposing the unjust war and demanding that Vietnamese people be allowed to decide their own destiny. SUA members, including John, organised a number of anti-war marches, while crew members of the Boonaroo refused to ship bombs and ammunition to Vietnam.

“John Graham, like a lot of SUA members in those stormy days, opposed the American imperialist war in Vietnam because he was and still is a peace activist,” recalled Joe Deakin, a close friend.

John felt the pain that Vietnamese people had to endure during this period and was highly displeased with actions taken by the US and its allies.

“John’s clear position was that Vietnamese people were committed to defending their Motherland against any invader, whether it be the French or the Americans. So John’s position was clear for all to see, that peace is SUA’s most certainly business,” said Joe.

John Graham distributes leaflets at a march of the Maritime Union of Australia formerly known as the Seamen’s Union of Australia

The group encountered many difficulties during the early stages of the movement against the American war in Vietnam and were widely considered cowards and traitors. The crew members of the Boonaro were even assaulted and spit on when they went out. However, those actions did not stop them from trying to persuade the peace-loving citizens and government of Australia not to get involved in this unjust war. They were left undeterred by those challenges, but determined to uncover the full truth about the war and to this day they still think it's the best thing they've ever done and are always proud of it.

After the conclusion of the war, the group continued to help Vietnamese people overcome the consequences of the conflict by building a kindergarten that was heavily bombarded in Hai Phong for instance as they thought they owed Vietnamese people.

John, who turns 80 on September 3, has dedicated his entire life to the SUA, with part of his youth being associated with Vietnam together with the anti-war movement.

CPV (Source: VOV)