78S30216 MMS-D

By: Rose H.R. No. 56

WHEREAS, The family and friends of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Rodney Saylor Griffith of Lockhart suffered a great loss with the passing of this beloved man on August 21, 2003, at the age of 64; and

WHEREAS, Born in Belton on May 15, 1939, Colonel Griffith graduated from Lockhart High School, where he excelled at sports, and from Texas A&M University, where he attained the rank of cadet colonel and served as executive officer of the Maroon Band; and

WHEREAS, Following his graduation from college in 1961, he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force; during his outstanding 22-year military career, Colonel Griffith logged over 12,000 flight hours, including more than 1,500 combat flight hours in Vietnam; he flew C-124s and C-141s, the largest transport aircraft in the world at that time, and the HH-53 helicopter, nicknamed the Jolly Green Giant; and

WHEREAS, During the Vietnam War, Colonel Griffith rescued more persons from behind enemy lines than any other American in history; on May 1, 1972, he earned a Silver Star for his actions in airlifting 129 American and South Vietnamese soldiers from the besieged city of Quang Tri; he also took part in a 12-day mission to rescue an American officer who was shot down behind enemy lines, an operation that became the subject of two books and a movie titled Bat 21; and

WHEREAS, In 1981, Colonel Griffith participated in the attempted rescue of Americans who were being held hostage in Iran; although the mission was ultimately aborted in the Iranian countryside, Colonel Griffith succeeded in saving his crew and Delta Force troops, as well as his helicopter; and

WHEREAS, On the basis of his extensive experience, Colonel Griffith developed two new programs that improved the effectiveness of search and rescue operations conducted by the air force; he also established a school to offer instruction in one of these programs at Charleston Air Force Base; and

WHEREAS, Over the course of his career, this dedicated officer received numerous military citations for his bravery and service; in addition to the Silver Star, these accolades included four Distinguished Flying Cross medals, two Meritorious Service medals, and four Air medals; and

WHEREAS, Following his retirement from the air force in 1982, Colonel Griffith returned to Lockhart and took up a second career as a farmer; bringing his considerable drive and talents to bear on this new vocation, he became so proficient that in 1991 the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce named him Agriculturist of the Year; and

WHEREAS, throughout a life rich in accomplishments, Rodney Griffith treasured his family above all and treated everyone he met with dignity and consideration; deeply loved and profoundly admired in return, he exemplified the virtues of courage, generosity, humility, and dedication to duty, and it is a privilege to join in honoring the memory of this exceptional Texan; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 78th Texas Legislature, 3rd Called Session, hereby pay special tribute to the life of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Rodney Saylor Griffith and extend sincere sympathy to the members of his family: to his wife, Peggy Joyce Hilburn Griffith; to his children, Rodney Todd Griffith, Christina Deanne Griffith, and Curtis Ryan Griffith; to his brother, Dr. Donald Paul Griffith; to his sister, Glenda Sue Griffith Ehrig; and to his other relatives and many friends; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the members of his family and that when the Texas House of Representatives adjourns this day, it do so in memory of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Rodney Saylor Griffith.

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