Sgt Rodney Lynn Griffin

Sgt Rodney Lynn Griffin

Mexico, Audrain County, Missouri, USA
Death 2 May 1970 (aged 21)
Cenotaph Mexico, Audrain County, Missouri, USA
Plot Section 7/Sunrise
Memorial ID 60139398 View Source
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In Memory of ....... SGT. Rodney Lynn Griffin.
*** He is buried in Section 7/Sunrise, with his brother William Bill Griffin, his parents are buried in Section 3/Acacia Leaf.
Marty Campbell
Mexico, MO
*** Sergeant Griffin was a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. On May 2, 1970, he was a passenger in a Bell Iroquois Utility Helicopter (UH-1H) flying just over the South Vietnamese border near the city of Memot, Cambodia when the aircraft received ground fire and was forced to land. Sergeant Griffin was declared Missing in Action. His remains were not recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.

You may be gone, no longer living on this earth; but you will live on - in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in those who knew you. You will live on because we remember you!

25th Infantry Division
Age: 25
Race: Caucasian
Date of Birth Aug 1, 1948 in Mexico,MO.
Marital Status: Married - Donna L. Griffin of Chillicothe, Ill.(Donna re-married 20 years ago, with two grown sons and her first grandchild, a baby girl, born last Thanksgiving, she keeps vigil from her home in California, along with his family and friends here.) Parents: (father died in 1993, and their mother died in 1996. They are buried in Mexico, Mo.) Father, George William Griffin and Mother, Opal M. O'Donnell Griffin, Born Feb. 6, 1919 and Died June 28, 1996 at the age of 77 yrs., both of Centralia, MO. Brother, Darryl Griffin and William (Bill) Lee Griffin, Born Feb. 11, 1938 and Died May 17, 2012 at the age of 74 yrs.

***** They have finally recovered the remains of Rodney Griffin..they are being returned to the states, have not heard plans for burial as yet...Newspapers in Columbia and Centralia, MO have printed the wonderful news...Sad his parents and a brother are not living to hear the news...
Marty Campbell
Mexico, MO

His tour began on May 2, 1970
Casualty was on May 2, 1970.
Hostile, died while missing, HELICOPTER - NONCREW

Body was not recovered
Panel 11W - Line 85

Other Personnel In Incident: Michael Varnado; Robert M. Young; Bunyan D. Price; Dale W. Richardson (all missing); Frederick H. Crowson; Daniel F. Maslowski (returned POWs); Tommy Karreci (evaded and escaped)

On May 2, 1970 a UH1H helicopter from Company B, 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division flown by WO1 Michael B. Varnado was hit by ground fire and forced to land just over the border of South Vietnam near the city of Memot, Cambodia.

The aircraft was transporting members of HHC, 34th Armor, 25th Infantry Division, SP4 Rodney L. Griffin; SP4 Bunyan D. Price, Jr.; WO1 Daniel F. Maslowski; Capt. Dale W. Richardson; and Capt. Robert M. Young. Also aboard were Tommy Karreci, SP4 Frederick H. Crowson,and CW2 Daniel F. Maslowski, crew members of the aircraft.The men were part of an attempt to stop North Vietnamese forces from gaining strongholds in Cambodia.

The crew all survived the crash, and had only 30-40 seconds on the ground to decide what to do.

The crew and passengers exited the aircraft unharmed with four men departing through the pilot's door and the other four through the co-pilot's.

The group decided it was best for them to head for Firebase Bruiser to the west, but within 30 to 40 seconds of hitting the ground WO1 Varnado warned the group that the enemy was approaching. They disbursed in different directions in order to find cover in the elephant grass that grew from the edge of the rice paddy to the tree line. As they scattered, the enemy opened fire from all sides.

Pvt. Tony Karreci ran, jumped into a ditch, and hid under a bush. From that vantage point he watched as Michael Varnado disappeared from sight into the elephant grass. Dan Maslowski found shelter in a ditch/depression in the rice paddy near Frederick Crowson and Dale Richardson where they were pinned down by the enemy. As he fired his .38 caliber pistol at one VC soldier, another one put the muzzle of his gun to WO1 Maslowski's head and said: "Surrender or die." The trio surrendered.

Pvt. Karreci also recounted that after Dale Richardson, Dan Maslowski and Frederick Crowson surrendered to the VC, he saw some enemy soldiers go over to a clump of bamboo and begin firing into it. Then they dragged the wounded aircraft pilot out and dragged him in the direction of the rest of the captives.

The door gunner also stated that an hour after WO1 Varnado was captured, he saw the communists pull the body of an unconscious or dead "blond, heavyset man" from out of the bamboo and left him out in the open. He was not able to identify that man, but based on intelligence analysis, government personnel believe it was possibly Rodney Griffin.

Further, SP4 Crowson recounted seeing Rodney Griffin and Bunyan Price firing M16 rifles at the enemy troops before he himself was captured. Although he was never seen in captivity, Dan Maslowski and Frederick Crowson always believed that Bunyan Price had also been captured.

Only Tony Karreci, the 18 year old door gunner, successfully evaded capture and made his way back to friendly control on 4 May 1970. The other seven passengers and crew were initially listed Missing in Action. Once their true status became known to US authorities, Dan Maslowski's, Frederick Crowson's, Michael Varnado's, Bunyan Price's and Robert Young's status was immediately changed to Prisoner of War.

Even though Dale Richardson was known to have been captured, his status, and that of Rodney Griffin, remained Missing in Action.

For Bunyan Price, Rodney Griffin and Dale Richardson only unanswered questions remain.



In the records, Sgt. Rodney Griffin of Centralia is just three small letters: MIA. But for his brothers who carry on, those letters bear the weight of more than 30 years of sorrow,
loss — and enduring hope that they will some day learn this Vietnam veteran’s fate.

Sunday, October 5, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:09 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008


Rodney Griffin’s family has been waiting more than 30 years for him to come home. At the age of 21, he left Centralia for Vietnam. He’d be 55 now, but he’s never aged in the memory of his brothers. They still hope and dream for the return of a young man.

Rodney was drafted in 1969 and sent to boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood. Afterward, he came home and married a girl he had dated in high school. He didn’t know that a week later he would receive his orders to leave for Vietnam. His family didn’t know this would be the last time they would see him.

“I don’t think Rodney wanted to go, but he did his duty,” said Bill Griffin, his older brother. “He knew what he had to do, so he did it.”

Rodney is among nearly 93,000 Americans listed as missing from wars since World War I. The Vietnam War left 40 men from Missouri unaccounted for, and one of the most challenging things for the Griffin family is sustaining hope after so many years.

“Especially when the POWs were released, you get your hopes up that you might find him, then you’d just get knocked down again,” Bill Griffin said.

The letters that Rodney sent home to his mother revealed his distaste for the country. He described Vietnam as “a hell box” and hoped President Nixon “would make up his mind and end the war.” He also told his family to pray that no one else had to go to Vietnam.

After six months of active duty, each soldier was granted a two-week furlough. Rodney was looking forward to a trip to Hawaii with his wife. But just before his vacation, the Army needed volunteers for a special mission into Cambodia. The helicopter carrying Rodney and six others from the 125th Infantry was shot down in Cambodia on May 2, 1970. One man escaped, one was shot, and the others were captured, with each man taken in a different direction. Most of the men were taken to a POW camp, but two, including Rodney, were never seen again.

Within a week, Bill Griffin said that a couple of Army captains came to visit his parents. No one knew whether he was captured, dead or lost.

“At that time, I didn’t know what MIA was,” said Doris Griffin, Bill’s wife of 38 years. That changed as a generation grew up watching television images of POWs coming home. Doris Griffin said that as a result of the family’s vigilant attention to the war coverage, one of her daughter’s first words was “MIA.”

Rodney’s parents never gave up hope that he would return. They suffered a blow when, after three years of waiting, Rodney’s wife requested that he be declared dead, so she could move on with her life and eventually get remarried. The Army classified Rodney as unaccounted for and presumed dead.

“My parents never accepted that,” Bill Griffin said.

The brothers’ father died in 1993, and their mother died in 1996. They are buried in Mexico, Mo.

“It broke my mother’s heart,” said Darryl Griffin, Rodney’s younger brother. “I could see it took a toll on my parents.”

Bill Griffin is now the oldest living relative and still says that he has high hopes, but knows the reality. He inherited all of his brother’s medals and letters. He also wears a bracelet every day with his brother’s name and the date he went missing.

Darryl Griffin said he flies an American flag and the POW/MIA flag outside of every house he has ever owned.

“I’m not shy of answering any questions that people want to ask me about the flag or my brother,” Darryl Griffin said. “I’m very proud of him.”

And that brotherly love hasn’t faded over the years. They both retell family stories about Rodney as if they happened yesterday.

Just after Rodney’s 16th birthday, Bill and Doris drove over in their new red convertible. Rodney pleaded to take the new car for a spin. Bill and Doris laughed while remembering the sight of Rodney going for a joyride in their car, packed full of teenagers.

Both Darryl and Bill Griffin describe their brother as a funny guy. As a young man, he liked to dance and was in a band.

“We did a lot of things together,” Darryl Griffin said. “He was good to me, and I miss him.”

The Griffin family spent their summers and weekends in Mexico, Mo., and his brothers say everyone between Mexico and Centralia knew Rodney. One man even painted Sgt. Griffin’s name on the side of his truck, to remind people of their hometown hero.

Sgt. Rodney L. Griffin is honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and a street is named for him in Centralia. But his name doesn’t appear with the other deceased veterans at the Boone County Courthouse. His brothers aren’t sure why.

Darryl Griffin stays involved with the families of POWs and MIAs, just like his mother did. He goes to family update meetings, most recently in St. Louis, to learn what the Army and other families are doing.

“A lot of families get together and support each other,” Darryl Griffin said. “I go to show that I’m still here and I want someone to tell me something about my brother ... I hope everybody finds out something about their loved one.”

Darryl Griffin has been persistent in his search for answers and won’t let the military forget about him. He recognizes though, that funds are limited, and it’s been difficult to work with some foreign governments.

Bill Griffin has tried to contact some of the people who were on the same mission as his brother, but has been mostly unsuccessful. He gets letters every few months from the Army, but is skeptical because of information that has been blacked out.

“They didn’t tell the family much,” Bill Griffin said. “I still don’t believe half the stuff they tell me, and they’re not telling us everything they know.”

“The hope is to figure out what happened to these men,” said Summer Allen, a retired Navy captain whose mission was to try to account for missing soldiers in Thailand. “We would identify bodies and at least bring some relief to the families.”

A few years ago, Bill and Darryl Griffin received letters from the Army asking for DNA samples to try to match with some remains that had been found. The brothers promptly sent their samples, but the remains turned out to be from another soldier. Bill Griffin said that was the closest he has come to knowing what happened to his brother, and it was another disappointing blow when the results didn’t match.

Bill and Darryl Griffin agree that if their brother’s body is found, they would bring him back to Mexico to be buried next to his parents.

Until that day, they wait, remember and hope.


Remains of mid-Missouri soldier identified after 45 years

Thursday, March 5, 2015 | 9:25 p.m. CST; updated 6:31 a.m. CST, Friday, March 6, 2015
BY Jacob Steimer

COLUMBIA — It was May 2, 1970, when Sgt. Rodney Griffin of Centralia was declared missing. It wasn't until last month that Doris Griffin learned that her brother-in-law was dead.

Rodney and seven other soldiers were aboard a helicopter that was shot down while flying over Cambodia as part of an invasion, according to a Feb. 1, 1973, Missourian article. The soldiers escaped the aircraft but found themselves under enemy fire, and only one soldier escaped.

In the 45 years her brother-in-law was missing, Doris Griffin said she never gave up hope that he was alive. It took a phone call from her brother-in-law, Darryl Griffin, last month for her to finally know that she wouldn't see him again.

"It was sad that it was final," Doris Griffin said. "They (the Army) had declared him deceased, but we never gave up hope."

In the phone call, Darryl Griffin told his sister-in-law that the Army had just alerted him of his brother's death. Darryl Griffin was not available for an interview Thursday evening.

Darryl and Doris Griffin agreed to keep the news a secret when they first found out. They did tell some family members, though, and news ended up spreading.

Doris Griffin said she's been inundated with phone calls this week from several states and all over Missouri. She said it's nice to know that people haven't forgotten about her brother-in-law, but it's been tough having to relive everything so many times.

"Emotionally, it's a lot harder this week," she said while choking back tears.

Doris Griffin said her brother-in-law's body will be returned to the family and buried in Mexico, Missouri, alongside his parents, but she doesn't know when.

"They definitely found him, and that's all we know," she said. "We don't know any more now than we did a month ago."

She said the family hopes to learn more information from the army March 12.

Darryl Griffin was persistent in his search for answers about what happened to his brother. He received letters from the Army every few months, according to a 2003 Missourian article.

Doris Griffin said the Army notified Darryl Griffin one year ago that it thought it had identified Rodney Griffin. It took a year to confirm it.

Rodney Griffin's name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and is memorialized as the name of a street in Northeast Centralia.


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