Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin .
Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin
Died April 3, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
28, of Dover, Del.; assigned to the 377th Security Forces Squadron, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; died April 3 near Baghdad of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
Airman remembered as confident leader
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis Griffin knew the dangers of serving in Iraq, but the 28-year-old volunteered anyway as part of a yearlong deployment to help train Iraqi police officers. Griffin was on patrol in central Baghdad on Thursday when his vehicle encountered a roadside bomb and he was killed, officials at Kirtland Air Force Base confirmed late Friday. Griffin, who had served in the Air Force for nearly nine years, was a member of the 377th Security Forces Squadron at Kirtland. He had been stationed at the Albuquerque base since July 2004.
Griffin’s mother, Christine Herwick of western Ohio, was at the Clearcreek Christian Assembly in Springboro, Ohio, on Thursday when she learned of her son’s death. Griffin’s picture is on a prayer wall at the church. “He died doing what he loved,” she said. Herwick and Griffin’s stepfather, Donald Herwick III, said he was born in Okinawa, where the Herwicks were both on active duty, and traveled with them from base to base. “We knew there was risk every day,” Donald Herwick said. “He wanted to be there.”
Col. Robert Suminsby, installation commander at Kirtland, said Griffin’s mission in Iraq was much more dangerous than what most airmen are confronted with. “Most deploy for four to six months. He actually volunteered to go on a 365-day tour,” Suminsby said. “He was one of the folks that really stepped up to do not just a very dangerous and demanding mission, but one that was going to last a lot longer.” Griffin, of Dover, Del., had been in Iraq since October and was working with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. As part of the squadron’s Detachment 3, Griffin and his fellow airmen were focused on helping build Iraq’s police force.
Capt. Kevin Eberhart, operations officer of Kirtland’s security forces, had regular talks with Griffin before he deployed last fall. The two talked about Griffin being safe and taking care of his troops as well as the importance of the mission. “The biggest thing that comes to mind when I think about him is he was definitely the right person if you had to pick one individual from our unit to go over and do this training. He was that one,” Eberhart said.
In a November interview with the American military newspaper Stars and Stripes, Griffin said: “I want to leave knowing that we’ve done something.” Eberhart described Griffin as competent and confident but not arrogant. “He had a capability and a charisma about him,” he said.
Kirtland to rename street for fallen warrior
Kirtland Air Force Base Public Affairs — Kirtland Air Force Base officials will rename a base street April 3 in honor of a fallen warrior.
The ceremony changing the name of M Street to Griffin Avenue in honor of a fallen security forces defender, Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin, will be at 10 a.m. at Building 20412, the security forces logistics building. The ceremony’s date commemorates the fourth anniversary of his death, when he was killed in action by a roadside bomb while deployed with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in Baghdad, Iraq.
A former colleague recalled her experience with Griffin. “I was stationed here with Travis when I was on active duty,” said Mirella Bidgood, 377th Security Forces Squadron security specialist. “My husband, at the time, knew him and our kids were the same age, so we hung out together sometimes after work. He was awesome. He was a helper; he would do anything for anybody. He would put people first.” Bidgood said she remembers a time when Griffin helped her while her husband was deployed. “I was about six or seven months pregnant and had to move on base,” said Bidgood. “So I had a bunch of people trying to help me move. After everyone had left, he stayed and put pictures on the wall, set up my bed and arranged my furniture. I remember him always being upbeat and having a smile on his face.”
Griffin supervised Staff Sgt. Niles Bartram, 377th Weapons Systems Security Squadron, when Bartram arrived at Kirtland AFB as an airman first class. “He was a firm leader who set the standard,” said Bartram. “He was an incredible leader. Anything he had us do, he was willing to do with us. We knew if we ever needed anything we could go to him. He got me well prepared for my job. He was the best NCO in our unit. There is no other person I would rather have been mentored by as a young Airman than Sergeant Griffin.” While stationed here, Griffin was a security forces instructor. His duties included instructing the 550 security forces Airmen on security requirements. He was a key member of the base’s deployment training center, where he instructed more than 300 Airmen in combat operations.
“It was obvious he had a strong personal connection with a number of people in the squadron,” said Chapapas. “Young people came to him for advice, while his peers and colleagues had great confidence in him. A good testament to that when his Humvee was hit, the Army medic who tried to save his life also attended his funeral in Ohio. It was very obvious that he made some of those same connections with the people he deployed with.” “The entire base was soaked in sadness,” said Bartram. “I remember the Freedom Riders lined the entire church. We lined up our whole squadron outside. You could not pack one more person into the church. Everyone was there to honor him.”