Graham Walker's story
Graham Francis Walker AM was born on 6 September 1939 in Marabee, Queensland.
Graham joined the Australian Army in 1959, a year after he finished school. After 4 years at Royal Military College, Duntroon, he graduated as a lieutenant in the infantry.
In his early career, Graham served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) at Holsworthy, New South Wales. In 1964 and 1965, he served in New Guinea with the Pacific Islands Regiment and was attached to the British Army's 2/7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Regiment. During this time, he undertook 2 periods of active service during the Indonesian Confrontation.
Back in Australia, Graham returned to the Pacific Islands Regiment as an intelligence officer and Company Commander before being posted to the Portsea Officer Cadet School, Victoria, as an instructor.
In preparation for deployment to Vietnam, Graham served with the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8RAR) in Malaya. Then he deployed to South Vietnam in 1969 as a Company Commander.
Graham recalled the personal impact of the Vietnam War. When he came home, it took a significant period for him to readjust and settle down.
After the war, Graham returned to Lae, New Guinea, with the Pacific Islands Regiment to help establish the Military Cadet School. Then he had a long posting in Canberra at the Air Force Staff College.
Graham retired from the Army after 21 years of service. That's when he shifted his attentions to supporting returned service personnel. He worked with the Vietnam Veterans' Federation of Australia (VAA) to advocate for veteran entitlements and advise the Australian Government on veteran wellbeing.
The VAA was trying to gain recognition of diseases and disabilities linked to the wartime herbicide Agent Orange. In 1983, the Royal Evatt Commission was established to review the use and effects of chemical agents on Australian personnel in Vietnam.
Graham also campaigned for the official history of the Vietnam War to recognise the harmful effects of Agent Orange. The Australian War Memorial commissioned Peter Yule, a historian from the University of Melbourne, to write a more accurate account of the use of Agent Orange. The Long Shadow: Australia's Vietnam Veterans Since the War was published in 2020.
Alongside his post-career achievements and his immense support for the veteran community, Graham was honoured with numerous awards. He was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star for his service in the Vietnam War. He made ACT Senior Australian of the Year in 2014 and became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015.