Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Griffin Jr.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Lee Griffin Jr.

Died May 13, 2003 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom

31, of Elgin, S.C.; assigned to 728th Air Control Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; killed in action near Diwaniyah, Iraq, when his convoy was ambushed en route to Baghdad.

Death of Eglin airman ruled an accident
Associated Press

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The death of an Eglin Air Force Base staff sergeant during a convoy in Iraq last year was accidental, according to an Air Force investigative report obtained by a newspaper. Data systems technician Staff Sgt. Patrick L. Griffin Jr., 31, of the 728th Air Control Squadron was killed May 13 when an unexploded U.S. Army bomblet detonated, the report said. The incident happened when the convoy, en route to Baghdad from Kuwait, stopped to determine its position after a wrong turn.
Griffin’s widow provided the Northwest Florida Daily News with the report. “It helps me because I knew everything there was to know about Patrick Griffin, but I didn’t know how he died, and that drove me insane,” Michelle Griffin said.
Griffin was one of nearly 300 728th ACS airmen to deploy for roughly seven months to support American military operations in the Middle East, but was the only one to die. The report also cleared the squadron’s officers of a complaint filed by a senior noncommissioned officer alleging poor preparation for the 500-mile, combat-zone trip. The master sergeant who filed the complaint argued Griffin would be alive if a Global Positioning System receiver had been part of the convoy’s assets, because the wrong turn would have been avoided.
In response, the report stated, “Due to the absence of any violation of directives and the fact that although a GPS may have prevented a wrong turn, its absence does not represent negligence or dereliction by squadron leadership.” Patrick Lee Griffin Jr. joined the Air Force five years ago to take advantage of education benefits. He was promoted to staff sergeant in February 2003 and deployed to Iraq in April Griffin, a data systems technician, was killed May 13 when his convoy was ambushed on the way to Baghdad. “He had only been there a few weeks,” said his stepmother, Paula Griffin, of Groton, N.Y. “We thought the war was over with.” She said her stepson married his wife, Michelle, in 1997; they had two children, Mackensie, 2, and Cory, 4.

Associated Press

Wife of Eglin casualty says he never should have been in Iraq
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The wife of an airman killed in Iraq says her husband never should have been there because of family emergencies, including his mother-in-law’s terminal illness. Staff Sgt. Patrick Griffin Jr., 31, was a “computer geek’’ whose two children, Corey, 4, and Makensie, 2, don’t understand he will never return, said his wife, Michelle. He died May 13 when his convoy was ambushed on the way to Baghdad. He had been gone three weeks when Michelle returned to their home on this Florida Panhandle base to find four military representatives on the doorstep.
“I knew,’’ she said. “I told them, ‘You came here to say something. Just say it.’ ” When they did, she cursed, hit them and tore the ribbons from their uniforms, she told the Northwest Florida Daily News of Fort Walton Beach.
Her mother, who lives in Gainesville, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in February and given six months to live. Griffin asked to stay home to help his wife. His request was denied. Last week, Michelle’s mother had surgery and her life expectancy is now a couple years. “I don’t have any feelings or anger toward the men who shot my husband,’’ she said. “Pat and I had talked about it. We were going to kill their people. They were going to kill ours. I’m mad that Pat was even there.’’ Two weeks after he left, Makensie broke her nose and Michelle got blood poisoning. Doctors wanted to hospitalize her, but she went home to be with her children.
Griffin asked for medical leave but was turned down. A week later, Makensie fell carrying a glass and cut her hand to the bone. When Griffin called, they argued about it. He called again the next day to apologize and said he would be going to Baghdad. There was one more call the following day.
The couple met when Michelle was 8 years old and Griffin moved in next door in Dryden, N.Y. They dated as teens, married in 1997 and he joined the Air Force the next year. He died during his third deployment. “This time he had a premonition,’’ Michelle said. He gave her numerous instructions on what to do if he should die.
Since his death, she had been trying to find out what happened. The woman driving his truck told her they had been blowing tires all day. The convoy stopped and they got out. That’s when a bullet went through his side and shoulder.
An investigation is continuing and Michelle plans to remain in the Panhandle, renting a house in Crestview, for a year to see it though. Her husband’s ground radar unit, the 728th Air Control Squadron, is due back in December.
“When that plane comes in and Pat doesn’t get off that plane, that’s when I’ll begin to have closure,’’ she said. “That’s when I’ll know that it’s real.’’
Associated Press

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