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“Cork Graham brings a striking emotional depth to the world of adventure writing.”
One June 16th 1983, an American teenager landed on an island on the contested border of Vietnam and Cambodia during a lull in the sporadic fighting between holdout Khmer Rouge and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. At 8:30 p.m. this young teenager was captured by island militia of the communist regime and taken that night to the Kien Giang Provincial re-education prison in Rach Gia, a prison whose construction origins were during French colonial days and where he endured eleven months, most of it heavy psychological abuse and torture, held under false accusations of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Only after a mock, show trial held for the world press, on the teenager's nineteenth birthday, did a ray of hope appear with the placing of a $10,000 ransom for his freedom. Until then the SRV had held him secretly, lying to the US State Department, and the teenager's family, that he was not in Vietnam and had probably perished in the Thai Gulf. On May 17th, 1984, only after the ransom was paid, did that teenager board a plane at Tan Son Nhut Airport, and be greeted by the press corps, and members of the US Department and Department of Defense.
That young man held by Vietnam was Frederick Cork Graham, a US Navy midshipman who had only months earlier taken a leave of absence (LOA) from the US Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, Marine option, at UC Berkeley in order to try his hand at combat photojournalism and help find out if there was any truth to stories coming out of Laos and Cambodia, of American POWs, listed as MIA by the US Government during the Vietnam War. Unbeknownst to him until he was in a prison near where the neighborhood in he lived as an expat son of an American sales engineer and technical asset of the CIA, did he learn there were much more profound reasons for having returned to Vietnam to experience a dream he had had since first hearing of a famous combat photographer who had disappeared near the same border at which Graham was captured: Errol Flynn's son, Sean.
Soon after Graham's return to the United States from Southeast Asia, he continued his pursuit of combat photography for the Associated Press and Reuters in Central America during all out fighting in the insurgencies and counter-insurgencies aflame in the region during the 1980s. While there he was recruited by the CIA, first as a HUMINT asset and soon after as a paramilitary officer, who, while recruiting members for what would become a highly effective pseudo operations program against the FMLN, became one of only two non-Salvadorans to complete the Salvadoran Navy's SEAL/Special Warfare course near La Union.
After five years in Latin America, and after the military defeat of communist forces in Central and South America, he returned to the United States to unwind from the psychological effects of combat. After a stint as a counter-piracy contractor, in the areas around the Philippines, Indonesia and the Caribbean, he found himself as an executive in the Silicon Valley's first tech boom of the 1990s, moving into the publishing and on-line media world.
In 2004, a memoir about his treasure hunting and prison adventure was released, titled THE BAMBOO CHEST: AN ADVENTURE IN HEALING THE TRAUMA OF WAR, becoming an international bestseller--now in its second edition--which years later drew the attention of Discovery Channel and led to his position on Discovery's #1 New Hit Series for 2015. As a result of his experiences on production for the series, Graham wrote a successful tell-all, whistleblower memoir about fraud and other international corporate criminal activity in the reality-TV industry. Both books, along with his others, are available by following the links below.
Did you know Cork Graham is the publisher of two successful, advertising-driven, online multimedia magazines?...Read more