Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial day memories

When I was growing up, my parents decided that we should all wear POW-MIA bracelets in support of those who were captured during the Viet Nam War. My two sisters and I were in grade school. I must have been about ten when I received my bracelet. I wore it every day and night. The metal plating wore off the inside of the bracelet after a few years. I remember coating the inside of it with maroon fingernail polish so that it wouldn't turn my wrist green.

I wore the bracelet beyond the end of the war and the return of the prisoners. My bracelet bore the name of Commander James Griffin. He did not return from Viet Nam. His plane was shot down over Hanoi and he was taken prisoner. A few days later he died.

When the bracelet broke in half, I had to stop wearing it. But I remember.

The following comes from a web posting made by his wife.

Commander James Lloyd Griffin

Born in Gates, Tennessee, 27 December 1932,

He attended the University ofTennessee at Martin before entering the U.S. Naval Adacemy. Upon graduation from the academy in 1955 he entered flight training in Pensacola, FL and got his wings in 1956. He attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and received a professional degree in aeronautical engineering from University of Michigan in 1963. He served in VA-83, deploying to the Mediterranean and flying missions in Lebanon in 1958 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex and in 1959-60 aboard USS Forrestal. He joined RVAH-13 in 1964, servinge in Vietnam on two cruises from 1965-1967. In April of 1967 Commander Griffin had completed 100 combat missions; his plane was shot down over Hanoi on May 19, 1967--HoChi Minh's birthday. Commander Griffin's awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross with gold star; the Air Medal with bronze Star (eight awards); the Naval Commendation Medal with gold star and combat distinguishing device; the Navy Achievement Medal; the Purple Heart; Navy Unit Commendation Medal with bronze star; Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Medal Colorwith Palm); Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars; and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

On the day of his "shoot-down" a radio broadcast from Hanoi announced that Commander Griffin and his navigator had been captured, and, although gravely injured, he read a statement which was broadcast. A photo of his military ID card was displayed in a museum in Hanoi. He was carried in a "missing inaction" status until January, 1973, when his death on May 21, 1967 was revealed by the North Vietnamese. On January 16, 1974 the Secretary of the Navy verified that Commander Griffin had died while a prisoner of war. A plaque marking the event of his "shoot down" stands on the corner of a building in downtown Hanoi. Survivors include his wife Dora, his son James, and his daughter Glyn Carol Griffin, his parents, two brothers and a sister.

1 comment:

LittleSis1 said...

Funny, I looked up my POW today too. His name was Cole Black. He did return from Vietnam and died a couple of years ago in a small plane crash. He was returning from a trip to talk to high school students about his experiences. (He was not flying the plane.)