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Ben Griffen at NAS Jacksonville 1942
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Lt. Col. Ben Griffin (Ret.)

Ocoee, FL -
Korean War Veteran of the United States Marine Corps

"Fifteen minutes into North Korea my wingman said, "Griff, you had better get out of here - you are streaming oil."  I checked the pressure and it was okay, but for the second time my wingman said, 'Griff, get out of here.'"

- Ben Griffin


[The following short memoir was sent to the KWE by Lt. Colonel Ben Griffin's daughter, Patty Griffin Thursby.  Ben Griffin was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives in 1967. He served Orange and Osceola counties.]

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A Mission In North Korea

10 August 52
First Marine Air Wing
Marine Air Group 12
VFM 121 - Fighter/Bomber Squadron
1300 Take Off

Our mission briefing gave us the name of our target to destroy a rail yard just west of Pyongyang. This was a "group drop" consisting of 54 planes (36 F4Us and 18ADs). The F4U carried a bomb load of 3,000 pounds and the ADs carried 6,000 pounds. The F4Us had six .50 caliber machine guns, and the ADs four .20 millimeter machine guns. The weather was hot and clear. The takeoff and climb out of the three squadrons were normal.

We crossed into North Korea heading northwest at 9,000 feet. Fifteen minutes into North Korea my wingman said, "Griff, you had better get out of here - you are streaming oil."  I checked the pressure and it was okay, but for the second time my wingman said, "Griff, get out of here."

My next move was to drop below the formation and head for salt water. I immediately 'pickled' off my 6,000 pounds of bombs. My wingman did the same and then watched over me until I was picked up. We all knew that to get shot down in North Korea meant you weren't coming home unless you were captured by the Chinese. The North Koreans were not happy about us bombing their villages and cities.

I was about 30 miles from the Yellow Sea when my oil pressure began dropping, but my engine ran until we reached salt water. About a mile off the coast of North Korea I had a nice water landing, got out of my plane with no trouble, inflated my life raft, and climbed in.

The san pans with the colored sails were close by. They were supposed to be South Koreans, but I wondered about that. My wingman continued to circle and notified the regular outfit. About an hour and a half later my squadron, having accomplished their mission, returned and made a pass over me, did a couple of barrel rolls, and headed for home. It was easy for them to find me since I had put out a dye marker.  As you drift in the raft it makes a long orange line.  The raft has to be at one end or the other.

About ten minutes after the flight had returned home, a Navy mine sweeper showed up and threw me a line. Almost at the same time an amphibian Air Force plane landed and I decided to get on the plane. Getting on that mine sweeper might have put me at sea for a month. The Air Force took me to Seoul K-14 about 30 miles from my base known as K-6. I checked with the doctor and had no problems except the bomb site hit me in the face when I landed in the water.

My next chore was to talk a chopper pilot into flying me back to K-6. Our food was good and I promised him a steak dinner. He had me back to K-6 by 1800 hours. What a day!

About six years later at a dance in Winter Garden, Florida, another fellow from Ocoee, Florida, "Peach" Patrick, who I hadn't seen in at least ten years, came up to me and asked, "J.B., weren't you in the Yellow Sea in Korea?"  I told him yes and he replied, "I thought so.  I was on the Navy ship that tried to pick you up. Small world, isn't it?"

Ben Griffin
Lt. Col. Retired
U.S.M.C.
12 E. McKey St.
Ocoee, Florida 34762

 

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