Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veteran Receives Overdue Medals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veteran Receives Overdue Medals

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Herbert Griffin should have received a chestful of medals after he took part in the invasion of Normandy during World War II.

But the private first class, who served with an infantry unit in Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, never saw his Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other decorations because he was in a British hospital when the survivors from his unit received theirs.

But those long-awaited medals were presented recently to the World War II veteran at a private ceremony after U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Florida, was able to get them cast and presented almost 60 years late.

The Mandarin man, who landed on Utah Beach under heavy German fire after a rough trip in a landing craft, said he is glad that Crenshaw and his staff helped him get what he was missing.

"When they handed them out, I was in the hospital. I wasn't worried about them except to get home and get well," he said. "I felt mighty good and really honored to get them. I never had been involved in a ceremony like that. A lot [of veterans] came back and had ceremonies and medals pinned on them. But they were not in the shape I was in."

To Crenshaw, who worked with his staff to get the long-lost medals, Griffin is "a hero and national treasure" who deserves the medals he didn't get.

"He is one of those quiet heroes who never said anything, who went to war, fought hard and did his duty. It is heartwarming to see someone like that receive the honor he is due," said Crenshaw, whose father fought in World War II in the Pacific.

Griffin was one of thousands of soldiers, seamen and pilots who took part in the invasion of the German-occupied beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. Only 18 at the time Griffin enlisted, taking basic training in Georgia before he ended up a rifleman on board a bouncing landing craft.

"I was actually training for a heavy weapons outfit," he said. "I didn't know what I was in for."

The German fire was heavy when they landed on Utah Beach, then it took his team 10 days to get six miles.

"We got to a great big ravine and we got pinned down, and I was hit with an . …

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