150 Tackle who wore low cuts. Army A Cow and firstie Year. Killed in Vietnam
Thurston A. Griffith Jr.
Thurston Algee Griffith Jr.., was born in Sante Fe, New Mexico, on 17 March 1940. He and his family moved first to Raton, and then to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he attended high school, was active in church and Sunday school work at the Methodist church, and was a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
At Los Alamos High School, “Turk’s” interests were varied. He participated in sports, stood 12th in his class scholastically, and was awarded the Junior Citizenship Award in 1958. He was a member of the National Honor Society; a delegate to Boy’s State; president of the senior class and the Los Alamos Student Council, as well as the North Central District Student Council. He was also a talented amateur photographer.
Athletics were important to Turk from the time he played little league baseball to the time he graduated from West Point. Swimming, ice skating, ice hockey, and fishing were all a major part of his extracurricular activities. He was co-captain of his high school football team and lettered in track, baseball, and football. At West Point he played football on the 150-pound team, and was named on the Eastern Intercollegiate All-League team for 1961 as a tackle.
When Turk was a junior in high school his father, Turk Griffith Sr., was killed in an accidental explosion, and Turk Jr., assumed responsibilities beyond his years. His friends and neighbors said that Turk was “born to be a leader,” and that his perseverance, integrity, and high moral standards would certainly help him in His ambition to go to West Point.
When Thurston A. ‘Turk” Griffith Jr., was elected the “outstanding senior boy” at Los Alamos High School, he was also voted the “most likely to succeed.” He did succeed in his desire to go to West Point, and when he graduated in June 1962, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps. He then completed a series of training courses fitting him for the Army’s Special Forces arid an assignment to the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, where he lost his life on 17 January 1965.
In Vietnam, Turk was greatly admired by his associates, both American and Vietnamese. After his death, which occurred while on a combat patrol for which he volunteered, the Republic of Vietnam awarded him the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm Leaf Cluster and the Vietnamese National Order Medal Fifth Class. Also awarded to Turk posthumously were the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor.
Turk’s many friends in Los Alamos petitioned the Los Alamos School Board to name the new high school gymnasium after him, and they were successful in their appeal. It is a fitting memorial for a fine young man. a New Mexican who gave his life in the war in Vietnam.
At Fort Gordon, Georgia, a multi-storied bachelor officers’ quarters building has been named Griffith Hall in honor of Turk. The building, scheduled for completion in mid-
1966, was dedicated to Lieutenant Griffith in memory of his tours of duty at that post and in recognition of his “outstanding service to the U.S. Army and the ultimate sacrifice of his life to his country in Vietnam. …”
First Lieutenant Thurston A. Griffith Jr., is remembered proudly by his mother, Mrs. W. O. Connor Jr., his brother, Dudley Griffith, and his host of friends.
Requiescat in pace.
Note – Jim Ellis asked Harry Hagerty to sign for Turk on the Class of ’62 listing in the ’62 Room – Arvn Gym.
(The Class listing is just under the pictorial of General MacArthur’s expectation of us – Duty Honor Country – May 1962) the 2d picture of the ’62 Room.
Shadow box and picture from Virtual Wall
HS Gymnasium Dedication and program from Jim Heldman’s ’62 webpage