Hopedale Marine, 20, In Korea Only 5 Mos.

    HOPEDALE - A third telegram from the Defense Department Saturday night informed Mrs. Gertrude
    Griffin of 11 Cemetery Street that her son, Marine Pfc. Richard John Griffin, 20, died aboard the U.S.S.
    Haven, a hospital ship, of wounds received in Korea.

     This brings the Korean death toll in this area to two men, both of the Marine Corps. The other victim
    was Pfc. Lester Lavoie of Milford.

     Pfc. Griffin had been in Korea less than five months, landing there from Japan on Jan 28. He took part
    in the capture of a North Korean spy only several weeks ago, and had been commended by his
    superiors.

     On Feb. 17th the Seventh Marine regiment of the First Marine division, of which the Hopedale youth
    was a member, received orders to move forward towards the 38th parallel, and that force saw much
    action from then on.

     Griffin enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 19, 1950, and received basic training at Parris Island, S.
    C. His last trip home was on Christmas of last year.

     The victim was a graduate of St. Mary's High School, class of 1947. He was an outstanding all-around
    athlete at the school. He was captain of the basketball team in his senior year, and was one of the top
    scorers in the school's history. After graduation he played with several teams, including the Daily News
    team in the Town Basketball League.

     "Dick," as he was known to his many friends, also was a good student. He earned honors in his first
    and second years. He was also vice president of the Spanish club in his junior year, served on the
    school yearbook committee and was a finalist in the school oratoricals.

     For a year after graduation at St. Mary's he worked for the Draper Corporation, where his mother is still
    employed. Then he attended Clark University, and a year later went to St. Bonaventure College, where
    he was a member of the track team, and also participated in other sports.

     He enlisted in the Marines while still a sophomore at the New York college in New York.

     A week before his reported death in Korea, Mrs. Griffin received a letter from her son stating he was at
    a rest camp, after 63 days at the front. The Defense Department stated that the youth received "missile
    wounds in the legs and hips."

     Pfc. Griffin was born in Milford and in addition to his mother is also survived by his father, Albert Griffin,
    two sisters, Shirley and Virginia, both of Hopedale.

     This morning in St Mary's Church Rev. William J. Foran, pastor, offered his mass for the repose of the
    soul of Pfc. Griffin. Milford Daily News, June 18, 1951.

     Richard Griffin was buried in Hopedale Village Cemetery on November 10, 1951. The Griffin
    Apartments, part of Hopedale Housing Authority's Griffin-Dennett Apartments, were named in his honor.

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    I have many memories and could go on and on, but I would like you to hear this one. I played
    basketball, one on one and horse on the outdoor court in the park with an older boy. He was in college
    and home for a short time before going in the military. He was a very physical but kind guy and he
    showed me some things about the game. I was amazed that he would let me, a skinny teen even
    touch the ball. We did this two or three times and I never saw him again. His name was Richard Griffin
    USMC and he was killed in action in Korea.  Ray Midgley HHS 52

                                                    Veterans'  Menu                          HOME   

Milford Daily News, Oct. 26, 1964

    Photo of Richard Griffin taken by Paul
    Curran on Hopedale Pond in 1949.

                                                  On Memorial Day 2013

    July 2013 will mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that marked the cease-fire in Korea. It is often
    referred to as America’s “Forgotten War.” Indeed it was a conflict that marked a turning point in
    modern warfare. It was a war sanctioned by the United Nations and resulted in an outcome of
    something less than unconditional surrender of the enemy. Korea marked the first stalemate of the
    Cold War and it was not to be the last. Difficult to comprehend; it was a war of geopolitics and
    hegemony played out under the pall of an unthinkable third world war. Indeed, the threat of additional
    conflict in Korea conflict lingers to this very day.

    How could Korea become The Forgotten War? How could America forget the 2 million casualties of
    that intensely brutal war that lasted a mere 37 months? How could America forget its 34,000 sons
    who died at the rate of nearly 1000 per week?

    I am here to tell you the story one man from a small town in Massachusetts who went to Korea as a
    mere mortal and returned with a touch of immortality, never to be forgotten. He was an extremely bright
    and charming young man who left college early to enlist in the Marines in September 1950. He
    returned to Hopedale briefly that Christmas after completing basic training at Parris Island and
    deployed with the 1st Marine Division in Korea on January 28, 1951.

    By now, the Communist Chinese Army, the Red Army, was fully engaged in the conflict and had been
    since their unexpected entry during the previous winter at Chosin Reservoir that nearly drove the
    Marines Corps into the sea. Now the 1st Marine Division were up against them in an area known as
    the Punchbowl, a dormant volcano lying in treacherous mountain terrain. The fighting was as fierce as
    it was at Chosin. Many new replacements were now engaged in seemingly constant battle against the
    enemy. The Marine Corps Gazette reported it this way:

    Mountains were no novelty to Marines with Korean experience but they had seldom seen as chaotic a
    landscape as the one stretching ahead. Peaks of 3000 feet brooded over a wilderness of seemingly
    vertical ridges rising from dark and narrow valleys. Few roads were available and the frequent spring
    rains turned these native trails into bogs.

    Battles took place daily against a fierce and entrenched foe. Day long battles were fought for territory
    gains of only several thousand yards. During the first 10 days of June 1951, the 1st Marine Division
    lost 67 men killed in action.  Those loses were higher than any other month in the war; higher than
    during the famous Chosin Reservoir operation.

    Among those dead was Corporal Richard J. Griffin. He received shrapnel wounds in battle on June 9,
    was evacuated and died aboard the hospital ship USS Haven on June 16, 1951. He had been a
    Marine for less than one year, in Korea for less than 5 months, and now he was coming home to be
    laid to his final rest.

    Dick Griffin lived on Cemetery Street, just a few hundred yards from where we stand and his grave is in
    this cemetery where we honor him today along with so many others who fought and died in defense of
    our country. We in Hopedale have not forgotten our son from The Forgotten War.

    In October of 1964, the Town of Hopedale dedicated a new 40 unit apartment complex for the elderly in
    his honor. Richard Griffin had been remembered once again for the lives that he had touched. A young
    attorney who knew Dick Griffin presided over the dedication. Perhaps these words capture the soul of
    the young man who died too young. He said:

    Whoever coined the ancient proverb that ‘the good die young’ had such as Dick Griffin in mind. Dick
    had all the gentler qualities- loyalty, modesty, courtesy and a sense of the appropriate- to a degree
    unusual in a person so young and an unselfishness unique in a person of any age…He was truly one
    of those whom William James call ‘the once born.’

    That young attorney was our own Judge Francis J. Larkin. Colonel Francis J. Larkin. We thank him for
    keeping alive the memory of his dear friend Dick Griffin and for keeping him closer to our own hearts.
    And we thank him for keeping alive this fine tradition of commemoration with our Memorial Day
    parade. He has shouldered this great burden for many years and is now ready to pass the torch to
    another generation of thankful Americans.

    Finally, in November 1994, this monument was dedicated to all of the veterans of Hopedale, some
    159 of whom served during the Korean War era. This stone behind me commemorates the memory of
    Richard J. Griffin, forever etched in granite, as the single Hopedale resident killed in action in Korea.

    This member of “The Silent Generation” who fought in “The Forgotten War” shall never be forgotten in
    Hopedale. Corporal Richard J. Griffin, may you rest in eternal peace alongside and with your fellow
    comrades-in-arms. So long as this granite stone bears your name and Americans remain grateful of
    their heritage the memory of your life and service shall never fade.Thomas A. Wesley, Speech given
    during Memorial Day exercises, Hopedale Village Cemetery, 2013.