Remember 1LT Thurston Algee Griffith Jr.

1LT Thurston Algee Griffith Jr.
Hometown: Los Alamos, NM
Place of Burial: Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, NM
Killed In Action: 17 JAN 1965 – Vietnam War
1LT Griffith, or “Turk” as he was affectionately known, was a Ranger-qualified Psychological Warfare Officer (MOS: 89305) assigned to Special Detachment 5891, serving as an advisor to the South Vietnamese Army Rangers.
On the day of 17 JAN 1965, Turk, along with CPT Richard S. Johnson, were on a reconnaissance mission with the South Vietnamese Rangers in the vicinity of Tan Duac, Hoai Duc District, Bin Toy Province, South Vietnam, when the force was advising came under ambush eventually being overrun by the Viet Cong. Both men were initially declared missing in action until they were recovered on 20 Jan 1965. Both were initially believed to be killed by a recoilless shell explosion hit near their position based on witness reports, though investigative evidence strongly supports both men were captured and summarily executed
Turk graduated from the class of 1962 at West Point Military Academy, where he played football. 1LT Griffith was the first serviceman from New Mexico killed in action during the Vietnam War.
Turk was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.
General Westmoreland’s wife Katherine, upon hearing the news that 1LT Griffith was killed in combat, wrote a personal letter to his mother recalling the time Turk spent Christmas Eve at the Westmoreland home during his time as a cadet.
The Griffith Gymnasium is located in the Los Alamos High School, and its mural is dedicated to his memory.
Griffith Hall, located at Fort Eisenhower, GA, is named in his honor.
1LT Griffith’s name is inscribed on Panel 1E Line 82 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
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