|Birth: ||Oct. 20, 1939|
St. Joseph County
|Death: ||Apr. 16, 1964|
First Lieutenant Thomas Michael 'Tom' Griffin was assigned to 3575th Pilot Training Wing, 3576th Pilot Training Squadron, Flight 3, 'Speedy' where he instructed in the T-37B 'Tweet' at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma in 1964. He instructed many of my fellow classmates in Class 65-F.
At 4:45, on the afternoon of April 16, 1964, Lieutenant Griffin and Second Lieutenant Timothy Wayne 'Tim' Kirby were practicing spins during a pre-solo instructional flight, for Lieutenant Kirby, four miles east of Medford, about 30 miles north north-east of Vance Air Force Base. A radio call was then heard, stating they were going to eject from their disabled T-37B aircraft. They both ejected safely and were observed waving to other aircraft in the area while hanging in their parachutes.
The clay ground was very hard, after having been plowed and then dried out by the hot spring winds, which were estimated at 40 to 45 miles an hour that afternoon. As a result, their impact with the ground disabled both of them and they were then dragged over one half mile across a rough plowed wheat field. Lieutenant Griffin then broke through a three strand barbed wire fence and went another 300 yards before becoming tangled in a second barbed wire fence. Lieutenant Kirby was found lying at the edge of the field with his chute tangled in the barbed wire fence.
The HH-43 'Pedro' helicopter was launched from Vance Air Force Base but was unable to land at the accident site due to the gusting high winds. An ambulance from Medford arrived and Lieutenant Griffin was found to have perished. Dr. H. H. Moore, who had ridden in the ambulance, rendered first aid to Tim, who was taken to the hospital in Blackwell. Later that day, Tim was transported to St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City, about 100 miles south east of the accident site. Tim never regained conscious and died three days later.
On Friday, April 17, 1964, the headline in the Enid Morning News read; Vance Base Instructor-Pilot Dragged to Death by Chute.
His obituary appeared in the Enid Morning News, on Sunday, April 19, 1964
Vance Officer's Rites set Monday
Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Monday in the Guardian Funeral Home, Oklahoma City for, 1st Lt. Thomas H. Griffin, 24, of the 3576th pilot Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base.
Lt. Griffin was killed Thursday afternoon after he bailed out of a twin-jet T-37 and was dragged to his death across wheat fields and barbed wire fences by a strong wind.
Burial will be at 4:45 p.m. at the Memorial Park Cemetery, 116th and North Kelly with full military honors. There will be an Air Force flyover and taps at 5 p.m.
1st Lt. Wayne I. Yohe will be the military escort officer.
Lt. Griffin lived with his wife, Mary Anna, at 2116 W. Broadway.
It was never determined what was wrong with the aircraft leading to their ejection while it was in a spin.
Memorial Park Cemetery
Plot: Section 2, Lot 188, Space 1
Created by: Lee A. Hillard
Record added: Feb 13, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48073066