Robert Elwin Griffith

First Lieutenant
Army of the United States
02 September 1945 - 03 March 1969
Big Spring, Texas
Panel 30W Line 023

Silver Star (2 awards)

Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Military Merit, RVN Honor Medal 1st Class, RVN Campaign
Robert E Griffith

The database page for Robert Elwin Griffith

7 Sep 2004

Robert Griffith was a Big Spring, Texas native. He was born in San Antonio, but attended schools in Big Spring. He was a graduate of Big Spring High School. He was married Linda Diane Duncan of Big Spring.

I did not know him, but I feel like I do. I served in the Army with another soldier from Big Spring who knew him and had been involved in the operation in which Lt. Griffin was killed. Lt. Griffin was in A Company and my buddy was in C Company. In late 1969, my friend told me the story of the operation, "Wayne Grey." His company had been held back in reserve and Lt. Griffin's "A" Company were involved in a serious fire fight and A Company was forced to withdraw after taking heavy casualities. When A Company was forced to withdraw, they left 12 soldiers in the field, Lt Griffith was one. C Company found the bodies in a sweep a few days later. This situation weighed really heavy on my friend for many years, he didn't know until later that Lt. Griffin was one of those they found and brought down from the hill for evacuation.

Lt. Griffith is remembered by the Big Spring Vietnam Memorial in Big Spring, Texas and by the Permian Basin Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Midland, Texas.

Billy M. Brown

26 May 2007

My brother died while saving lives
Of men he loved and led.
Since it was I who would survive
And he who would be dead,
I wish that I were in his place
And he had lived instead.

Wayne Griffith
Captain, USAF, 21 SOS, NKP

A Note from The Virtual Wall

In February 1969 the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, was directed to block and destroy NVA transportation routes in the Plei Trap Valley. The operation began on 1 March 1969 with a combat assault by A Company, 3/12 Infantry, into Landing Zone Swinger. After securing LZ Swinger for artillery emplacement A/1/12 and other 1st Brigade rifle companies spread out into the valley looking for NVA troops.

Late in the afternoon of 03 March, A Company, 3/8 Infantry, found them when they were engaged by enemy troops. The initial contact was heavy and the Artillery Forward Observer's RTO (PFC Santos) was killed in the first few minutes, reducing the effectiveness of artillery support. The contact rapidly degenerated into a violent up-close infantry fight. By the time the NVA were forced from their defensive positions Alpha 3/8th Infantry had lost twenty-one men:

  • CPT Dennis R. Isom, Drexel Hill, PA (Company Commander)
  • 1LT Robert E. Griffith, Big Spring, TX (Bronze Star "V")
  • SGT George R. Robinson, New York, NY
  • SP4 Melvin L. Applebury, Eugene, OR
  • SP4 Philip L. Baker, Correctionville, IA (Medic from HHC/3/8)
  • SP4 Fred D. Burton, Chase City, VA
  • SP4 Dennis J. Coll, Springfield, NJ (Silver Star)
  • SP4 Charlie Fields, Winter Garden, FL
  • SP4 Rodger D. Force, Millport, NY
  • SP4 Rupert W. Goebel, Gastonia, NC (Medic from HHC/3/8)
  • SP4 Barry D. Horton, Airway Heights, WA (Silver Star)
  • SP4 Willie J. Hudson, Lovingston, VA
  • SP4 Vernon E. Lail, Conover, NC
  • SP4 William J. Schaaf, Baltimore, MD
  • SP4 Joseph Schmich, St Louis, MO
  • PFC Paul J. Buczolich, River Rouge, MI
  • PFC Michael England, Athens, GA
  • PFC William T. Rector, Front Royal, VA
  • PFC Layne M. Santos, Los Angeles, CA (Arty FO RTO from C Btry, 6/29th Arty)
  • PFC David A. Seiber, Waynesboro, TN (Silver Star)
  • PFC Willard A. Wimmer, Baltimore, MD

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his brother,
Wayne E Griffith

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 7 Sep 2004
Last updated 11/17/2007