Doolittle Raider Thomas Griffin Passes Away
February 27, 2013 - Thomas Griffin, navigator on the No. 9 B-25 bomber Whirling Dervish in the Doolittle Raid on Japan on April 18, 1942, passed away Tuesday evening in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 96.
An announcement on the Doolittle Raiders Facebook page reads: "It is with great sadness that we inform you that Maj. Thomas C. Griffin, navigator for Crew 9, passed away last night, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. He left us peacefully with his family at his side. Funeral arrangements will be announced once they become available.
"We will all miss him dearly, his mission here is complete and he has flown west to meet his fellow Raiders who have gone before him. There are now but four surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders."
The four remaining Raiders include Richard E. Cole, Robert L. Hite, Edward J. Saylor, and David J. Thatcher. The 71st Doolittle Raiders Reunion, an event being billed as the final reunion of Doolittle's Raiders, is scheduled for April 17-20 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Griffin was born on July 10, 1916, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1939, then entered service on July 5 that year as a Second Lieutenant, Coast Artillery, but enlisted as a Flying Cadet in 1940. He was rated as a navigator, and recommissioned on July 1, 1940.
After the Tokyo raid, he was assigned to B-26s with the 319th Bomb Group in North Africa, where he served until being shot down and captured by the Germans on July 3, 1943. He remained a prisoner of war for the next 22 months in the infamous Stalag Luft III until liberated in April 1945.
Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy, and Air Corps Medal, Class A, First Grade.
EAA had the privilege of recording a Timeless Voices of Aviation interview with Griffin several years ago.