JAMES L. GRIFFIN, CDR, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

James Griffin '55

Date of birth: December 27, 1932

Date of death: May 21, 1967

Age: 34

Lucky Bag

From the 1955 Lucky Bag:


1955 Griffin LB 2.jpg

Obituary

1955 Griffin 1.jpg

From Arlington National Cemetery:

Born in Gates, Tennessee 27 December 1932, he attended the University of Tennessee at Martin before entering the U.S. Naval Adacemy. Upon graduation from the academy in 1955 he entered flight training in Pensacola, Florida, and got his wings in 1956.

He attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and received a professional degree in aeronautical engineering from University of Mchigan 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, serving 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--Ho Chi Minh1s 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 (Galantry Cross Medal Color with 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 in action" 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. Dora Bell, James' wife, on 10/07/2001

1955 Griffin 2.jpg

From http://www.virtualwall.org/dg/GriffinJL01a.htm

CDR James Griffin died of his injuries following the shoot-down of his RA-5C over Hanoi.

On Ho Chi Minh's birthday, May 19 1967, Jim Griffin, piloting an RA-5C, and his Recon-Attack navigator, Jack Walters, were flying a reconnaisance mission over downtown Hanoi when their plane was downed over Sword Lake. They were captured nearby a short time later, but died one and two days later of injuries received in the shootdown. A plaque has been erected on a downtown streetcorner telling about the event and depicting their plane.

Jim graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1955 and attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He served in VA-83, deploying to the Mediterranean and flying missions in Lebanon in 1958 aboard the aircraft carrier USS ESSEX and during 1959-60 aboard USS FORRESTAL. He joined RVAH-13 in 1964, serving in Vietnam on two combat cruises during 1965-1967. By April of 1967 Jim Griffin and Jack Walters had completed 100 combat missions over North Vietnam.

Commander Griffin's awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross with gold star; Air Medal with bronze star (eight awards), 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 with Palm), Vietnam Service medal with three bronze stars and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign medal.

He was survived by his wife Dora, his son James and his daughter Glyn Carol. After the war Dora was remarried to Captain James F. Bell, who was a POW in Vietnam for seven and a half years.

Distinguished Flying Cross

From Hall of Valor:

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Commander James Lloyd Griffin, United States Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight in Southeast Asia.

Action Date: Vietnam War
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander

From Hall of Valor:

(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Commander James Lloyd Griffin, United States Navy, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight in Southeast Asia.

Action Date: Vietnam War
Service: Navy
Rank: Commander

Loss

From Hall of Valor:

James Griffin graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1955. He was interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam after he was shot down on May 19, 1967 and was held until his death in captivity two days later on May 21, 1967. His remains were recovered and returned on March 13, 1973.


Class of 1955

James is one of 34 members of the Class of 1955 in Memorial Hall.