LTC Charles E. Griffith, USAAF (1916-1944), Griffith was a fighter pilot who fought in the Aleutian Islands campaign of 1942/3, came to China in mid-1944 and joined the 76th Fighter Squadron of the famed 23rd Fighter Group.
Born in North Dakota, he was a 1935 Hope High School graduate and all-state athlete who went on to RI State College, where he started the school’s wrestling program. He was an intercollegiate champion for three years before his graduation in 1939.
He joined the Army Air Corps and was commissioned at Maxwell Field before the war. In Alaska he flew P-39 Aircobras with the 42nd Fighter Squadron. He led the first strafing attack on Kiska Island in September of 1942, earning his first Air Medal. Griffith returned to the US to train new pilots at Henderson Field in Tampa. He saw his first action in China on May 6, 1944. Eleven days later he assumed command of the 76th.
He and his wingman were killed when they crashed at Luliang air base while doing a victory roll on return from a mission on December 18, 1944. He had flown 103 combat missions and had four confirmed kills.
“He distinguished himself as a fighter pilot in China during the period: May 4, 1944 to September 10, 1944. The courage and determination exhibited by Lt. Col. Griffith reflect great credit upon himself and are consonant with the finest traditions of the United States Army Air Forces.”
–Distinguished Flying Cross citation, 1944
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