Graham A. Martin (1912–1990) succeeded Ellsworth Bunker as United States Ambassador to South Vietnam in 1973. He would be the last person to hold that position. Martin previously served as ambassador to Thailand and as U.S. representative to SEATO.
Martin was born and raised in the small town of Mars Hill, North Carolina, in the state's western mountains. His father was an ordained Baptist minister. He graduated from Wake Forest College in 1932. During World War II, he was a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, and even managed to be aboard the USS Missouri to watch the Japanese Surrender in 1945.
Martin first worked in the diplomatic field at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, from 1947 to 1955. His abilities as an administrative counselor and deputy Chief of Mission gained him attention from the State Department, which rapidly advanced his career.
Ambassador to Thailand
Martin was appointed on 10 September 1963 and left this post on 9 September 1967.
While serving as ambassador to Thailand, Martin came to the attention of Richard Nixon during a state banquet for the Thai King. Nixon was with Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. When the King toasted President Johnson, Humphrey tried to return the toast with a toast to the King. Martin interceded and gave the toast himself, explaining later to both Humphrey and Nixon that as the Ambassador, he was the President's personal representative, and thus, outranked the Vice President. He finished his explanation by saying "If you become President yourself someday, Mr. Vice President, you can be sure that I will guard your interests as closely as I did President Johnson's tonight".
Ambassador to Italy
Martin was appointed on 30 October 1969 and left this post on 10 February 1973.
While serving as Ambassador to Thailand, Martin's foster son, Marine 1LT Glenn Dill Mann, was killed near Chu Lai, South Vietnam, in November 1965 while attacking enemy positions at Thach Tru with his UH-1 helicopter gunship. 1LT Mann is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Martin was appointed as Ambassador to South Vietnam on 21 June 1973.
Martin was a committed anti-Communist, but he seriously underestimated the severity of the South Vietnamese situation, to the point that in the spring of 1975, when most American officials were convinced that South Vietnam was doomed to collapse, he continued to believe that Saigon and the Mekong Delta area could be held because of the tenacity of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in the Battle of Xuan Loc under the command of General Le Minh Dao.
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