Thomas Carson Griffin
|Born||July 10, 1916|
Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||February 26, 2013 96) (aged|
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch|| United States Army Air Forces |
United States Air Force Reserves
|Years of service||1939–1959|
|Unit|| 34th Bomb Squadron |
438th Bombardment Squadron
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards|| Distinguished Flying Cross |
Air Medal (4)
Thomas Carson Griffin (July 10, 1916 – February 26, 2013) was a United States Army Air Forces navigator who served during World War II. He was one of the eighty Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan in April 1942. After the Doolittle Raid, he was relocated to North Africa and was shot down during an air raid in 1943, spending time in a prisoner-of-war camp until he was rescued in early 1945.
Griffin was born on 1916 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1939, he graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
On May 15, 1939, through the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of Alabama, Griffin was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coast Artillery. From July 1939 to July 1940, he served with the 61st Coast Artillery before requesting relief from active duty in 1940 to enlist as a flying cadet in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was re-commissioned on July 1, 1940, and awarded his Navigator Wings on June 24, 1941. He was then assigned to the 17th Bombardment Group in Pendleton, Oregon, which was equipped with the North American B-25 Mitchell bombers.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the 17th BG immediately began anti-submarine patrols off the coast of Oregon and Washington.
In February 1942, Griffin volunteered for a "secret mission", even though he did not know what duties were involved or any other details. This mission ended up being the critical Doolittle Raid, which was led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. The raid was daring not only because of the intended targets, the Japanese homeland, but because the pilots trained to take-off in a B-25 bomber from the deck of an aircraft carrier, something neither the designers of the B-25, nor the aircraft carrier, ever envisioned.
Griffin was the navigator for ninth bomber, plane# 40-2303 nicknamed "Whirling Dervish", to depart the deck of the USS Hornet during the mission. On April 18, 1942, Griffin and his B-25's four crewmembers, took off from the Hornet and reached Tokyo, Japan. They bombed their target; Tokyo Gas and Electric Company building in the southern part of the city. They then headed for their recovery airfield in China. Running low on fuel due to the early launch of the raid, the B-25s failed to reach any of the designated safety zones in China. Griffin and his crew bailed out behind Japanese lines over the city of Nanchang in Jiangxi Province, China. The pilot of Griffin's bomber, First Lieutenant Harold F. Watson, was badly injured during the bail out and was carried to Hengyang in a porter by friendly Chinese civilians along with the bomber's crew. On April 30, after the crew made their way to Chungking, Griffin, Doolittle and other bomber crew members were decorated by Madame Chiang Kai-shek.
After the raid, from April to August 1942, Griffin remained in China, where flew one additional combat mission with the 34th Bomb Squadron. He was later reassigned as a B-26 Marauder navigator with the 438th Bombardment Squadron of the 319th Bombardment Group. On September 1942, the unit was sent to England and later to North Africa. Griffin flew 19 missions in support of Operation Torch and in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily. On July 4, 1943, his aircraft was shot down over Sicily and after bailing out, he was captured and taken prisoner by the Germans. He remained as a prisoner of war until April 1945, when his prison camp was liberated by Allied troops.
Griffin was married to Esther Brooks (Jones) Griffin, who died in 2005, for 60 years. Thomas and Esther had two sons, and several grand and great-grandchildren.
After the end of World War II, Griffin left active duty on February 22, 1946. He remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves until April 1959. He moved to Cincinnati where he engaged in accounting business. Griffin joined the Doolittle Raiders Association, and attended every reunion except the final reunion, which was scheduled for April 2013, due to him dying on February 2013.
Griffin died on February 26, 2013, in a Veteran Affairs nursing home in Cincinnati, at the age of 96. He was buried with full military honors at Hillside Chapel Crematory and Columbarium in Cincinnati. His death leaves just four surviving Doolittle Raiders.
|U.S. Air Force Senior Navigator/Observer Badge|
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
| Air Medal |
with three bronze oak leaf clusters
|Prisoner of War Medal||American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|| Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal |
with bronze campaign star
| European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal |
with two bronze campaign stars
|World War II Victory Medal||National Defense Service Medal||Air Force Longevity Service Award|
| Armed Forces Reserve Medal |
with bronze hourglass device
| Republic of China Medal of the Armed Forces |
|Republic of China War Memorial Medal|
James Harold Doolittle was an American military general and aviation pioneer who received the Medal of Honor for his daring raid on Japan during World War II. He also made early coast-to-coast flights, record-breaking speed flights, won many flying races, and helped develop and flight-test instrument flying.
The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, was an air raid on 18 April 1942 by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on Honshu during World War II. It was the first American air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago. Although the raid caused comparatively minor damage, it demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attacks. It served as an initial retaliation for the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned by, led by, and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle.
Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr. was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force. He is best known as the aircraft captain who flew the B-29 Superfortress known as the Enola Gay when it dropped a Little Boy, the first of two atomic bombs used in warfare, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
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Robert John Meder was a lieutenant in the United States Army Air Forces who participated in the Doolittle Raid. In February 1942, he volunteered to participate in the raid, which took place on April 18 that year. Meder and his bomber crew was captured by the Japanese after the completion of his bombing mission. He died while in Japanese captivity on 1943.
The 17th Bombardment Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. The group was last stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida.
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David M. Jones served with distinction as a pilot and general officer, first with the U.S. Army Air Corps and later with the United States Air Force. His record during World War II includes being one of the Doolittle Raiders whose exploits in April 1942 were dramatized in the film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. He then flew combat missions over North Africa, where he was shot down. He was a German prisoner of war for two and a half years, helping with the April 1944 mass escape at Stalag Luft III, which was dramatized in the 1963 movie The Great Escape.
Columbia Army Air Base was a World War II United States Army Air Forces base. It was primarily used for advanced combat training of B-25 Mitchell medium bomber units and replacement pilots.
William Marsh Bower was an American aviator, U.S. Air Force Colonel and veteran of World War II. Bower was the last surviving pilot of the Doolittle Raid, the first air raid to target the Japanese home island of Honshu.
Richard Eugene Cole was a United States Air Force colonel. During World War II, he was one of the airmen who took part in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan, on April 18, 1942. He served as the co-pilot to Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle in the lead airplane of the raid by sixteen B-25 bombers, which for the first time took off from an aircraft carrier on a bombing mission.
Colonel Charles Ross Greening was an accomplished pilot and artist. He was one of the 73 men out of the 80 Doolittle Raiders to survive the attack and return home to his family.
Denver Vernon Truelove was a United States Army Air Forces bombardier who served during World War II. He was one of the eighty Doolittle Raiders who bombed Japan in April 1942. After the Doolittle Raid, Truelove was involved briefly in North Africa. His awards included the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart.
Richard Henry Carmichael was a flag officer in the United States Air Force and a highly decorated bomber pilot. He twice received the Distinguished Service Cross. Carmichael piloted the first B-29 Superfortress to be shot down over Japan in World War II, while leading the 462d Bombardment Group in the bombing of Yawata on 20 August 1944, the first daylight air raid on Japan since the Doolittle Raid in 1942. He remained a prisoner of war until he was liberated on 29 August 1945. During the Korean War, he flew another 39 combat missions as commander of the 98th Bombardment Group. He was commandant of the Air Command and Staff College, before he retired from the Air Force on 19 January 1961.
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William ‘Billy Jack’ Dieter was a sergeant in the United States Army Air Corps. Dieter was a bombardier on the Green Hornet, the sixth plane to take off from a US carrier as part of the Doolittle Raid, a bold long-range retaliatory air raid on the Japanese main islands, on April 18, 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack was a major morale booster for the United States. Dieter was one of only three airmen to die in the raid itself, when his B-25 Mitchell, 'Green Hornet', crashed on the coast of China, having run out of fuel.
Lieutenant Colonel Horace Ellis Crouch was an American military aviator whose career included service with the United States Army Air Corps and United States Air Force, he was a combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War who served as one of the crewmembers on the Doolittle Raid.
Brigadier General John Allen "Jack" Hilger was a United States Air Force officer and deputy commander of the Doolittle Raid during World War II. He went on serve in a series of command and staff posts for the remainder of the war and also in the Korean War.
Everett Wayne Holstrom was a United States Army Air Forces bomber pilot and participant of the Doolittle Raid during the World War II. He retired from the United States Air Force in 1969 at the rank of brigadier general.
|Interviews for Veterans History Project|
|Interview with CET|
|Interview with American Veterans Center|
|Interview with the National Museum of the United States Air Force|