Col. O.C. “Ole” Griffith

Col. O.C. “Ole” Griffith
Col. O.C. “Ole” Griffith
Ole Griffith, born in Pittsburg, spent his early years in and around Pennsylvania, his military years all over the world, and his last three and a half decades based in Phoenix, Arizona. Fascinated by and engaged in aviation throughout his life, Griffith has been privileged to meet many of his early heroes and larger than life aviation personalities and other notables. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s DLC Auditorium on Thursday, October 18, at 7 PM, Griffith shares a well mixed, multi-media program on the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan and video of the 65th Raiders’ Reunion. Everyone is welcome at this free, public event.

 

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Then Lieutenant Ole C. Griffith is pictured in his B-25 on his 22nd birthday.

Ole Griffith, born in Pittsburg, spent his early years in and around Pennsylvania, his military years all over the world, and his last three and a half decades based in Phoenix, Arizona. Fascinated by and engaged in aviation throughout his life, Griffith has been privileged to meet many of his early heroes and larger than life aviation personalities and other notables. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s DLC Auditorium on Thursday, October 18, at 7 PM, Griffith shares a well mixed, multi-media program on the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan and video of the 65th Raiders’ Reunion. Everyone is welcome at this free, public event.

As a child he and his sister engaged in aviation imagination play. They followed the news of Lindberg, Earhart, Doolittle, and other aviator’s flights and feats. A member of youth aviation organizations, Ole was a prize-winning model airplane designer and builder and an amateur aviation photographer. He was destined to make his interest in photography a valuable part of his early military career.

With a BS degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology, Griffith was commissioned from ROTC as 2nd Lt. US Army Corps of Engineers in 1942, but his sights were on aviation. Shunning as alternate course and immediate promotion, he leapt at the opportunity to be detailed to the Army Air Corps for pilot training, which was partly secured under contract through Embry-Riddle in Florida. After completing his pilot training in December 1943, he was assigned to the 1st Photo Group flying photo and mapping missions throughout Central and South America in 1944 and 1945. This assignment placed him in Panama, Chili, Peru, and Brazil, which allowed him to experience these cultures and practice his Spanish in addition to his flying experience.

Griffith had longed to fly the P-38, but spent his career flying nearly fifty other aircraft, principally 0-47s, B-24s, B-17s, C-47s, C-45s, F-2s, T-33s, and his favorite, the B-25 named “My Happiness,” which ended up in the Doolittle Raiders’ exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Griffith’s career took on more land-based responsibility, but he stayed current in flying until late in his military career.

The Air Force provided Ole Griffith opportunity for advanced degrees, which he pursued with relish. He secured advanced engineering degrees from the Air Force Institute of Technology (1946-47) and Stanford University (1947-48) and graduated from Air Command & Staff College in 1950.

 

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Then Lieutenant Ole C. Griffith at the controls of his B-25.

The love of aviation, which was practically born in Griffith, has continued to grow throughout his life. This pursuit has taken him many places, allowed him to serve his country and his fellow man, and provided many joyous encounters. Some military, political, and aviation notables Ole Griffith met, served with, or with whom he developed friendships include: Jimmy Mattern, explorer and aviator; Al Williams, Naval Marine aviator; Ben Howard, airplane designer, builder, and racer; Vice President Hubert Humphrey; Generals Omar Bradley, Curtiss Lemay, and Jimmy Doolittle and many of the eighty Doolittle Raiders; test pilot Chuck Yeager; several astronauts including Gus Grissom and Frank Borman; several of the Tuskegee Airmen; many World War II flying aces including Francis Gabreski, Joe Foss, Jack Purdy, Joe Forster, and Tex Hill. In 1947, while a student at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Ole Griffith’s roommate there was Captain (later Colonel) John Paul Stapp, M.D., who was exploring and testing the human body limits for positive and negative “Gs.” While there, Griffith had a chance meeting with Orvil Wright followed 50-years later by a planned, private tour and videoing of the Wright Mansion interior.

In the mid 1950s, then Lt. Colonel Griffith was Base Commander at Phalsbourg Air Base in France. While stationed there, he and his wife Vickie were the guests of honor for the City of St. Die Vosges’ 1958 Godmother of America Celebration. At this and other assignments, his native intelligence, family and educational backgrounds, ability to grasp the big picture while inspiring and managing for success on the details, and his winning personality supported Ole Griffith on a path of service and satisfaction in aviation.

Griffith feels blessed to have lived and worked in the many and varied locations and positions of his career. Looking back, he selected several places to highlight. “I would have to name Wright Patterson Air Force Base as the most significant and treasured because it has been a place of focus all of my life,” Griffith said, when asked about special places. “It is where I met my beloved wife Vickie, where I received excellent education at the Air Force Institute of Technology, where I have met so many wonderful people involved in the field of aeronautics, and where ‘my’ B-25 is exhibited to honor the Doolittle Raiders,” he added. His postings, all over the world, always included his family. He went on to tell about his ten years of service in Washington DC at the Pentagon and Andrews Air Force Base. Griffith delighted in this decade of living in a Virginia suburb because it afforded him and his family an opportunity to explore much of the early history of this nation. Upon retirement from military service in 1970, he and the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to accept a civilian job with AiResearch Mfg. Co. where he retired two decades later. Arizona, because of its great weather, home to his family, the many memorable experiences flying with friends, and deep friendships, is also truly treasured by Griffith.

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(l. to r.) Ole C. Griffith and granddaughter Hilary Griffith (2006 Miss Arizona) are seen here during a reception at the 2007 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, NV

While living in Phoenix, the Griffith family has extended to the fourth generation to include a great granddaughter and a great grandson along with three grandsons and four granddaughters along with the original three children—Jeff, Jennifer, and Julie. Intelligence, beauty, generosity, and graciousness abound in this family, which counts among its number Miss Arizona 2006 Hilary Griffith, who hosts the mid-morning show on Prescott based KGCB Radio Shine.

Yavapai County with its many attractions is special to Ole because of the air shows at Love Field, the opportunity to get away to the cool hill country when the temperatures shoot above 110 degrees in Phoenix, and the family’s annual retreat in Sedona. Ole was a guest at the VIP tent at Prescott’s Skyfest 2006 where he met new friends and renewed old acquaintances. The Arroyo Roble Resort family getaway in Sedona began with one timeshare and expanded to three as the family grew. This family dons an almost von Trapp appearance each summer as they occupy their three timeshare villas there. Dressed in matching winter attire, each year the entire group poses for the famous Griffith family Christmas photo during their July or August visit.

A published writer and photographer, Griffith is a national and local member of American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS) for which he served two 2-year terms as president of the Phoenix Wing and currently serves on that board. He also worked to facilitate the AAHS National Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1996. He is a member of the Air Force Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, American Photo Mapping Association, Phalsbourg Air Base Reunion, Doolittle Raiders’ Reunion, Daedalians, and the Commemorative Air Force.

Griffith’s love of family, photography, travel, and aviation are well supported by his able embrace of modern technology such as computers, the Internet, E-mail with attachments, CDs, DVDs, and digital and video photography. This has allowed him to stay in touch with friends and fellow aviation enthusiast, collectors, and museum curators who have benefited from his connections for receiving aviation memorabilia. For Ole Griffith, the fascination continues. He is engaged in aviation of the past and the present, while ever looking into the future of flight.

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This floor diorama exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force depicts the lead plane (B-25) on the deck of Aricraft Carrier Hornet. The figures represent (at left) then Navy Captain Marc Mitscher, (at right) then Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, and, conferring from the cockpit, then Lt. Dick Cole.

Ole Griffith spoke at Embry-Riddle University Aeronautical University’s DLC Auditorium in 2007.

  10 October 2007 

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Please credit PrescotteNews.com (with link) as follows:

All the best,

Guy Roginson
Co-Owner
Specialized Publishing, LLC

News-Entertainment-Advertising

Please credit PrescotteNews.com (with link) as follows:

All the best,

Guy Roginson
Co-Owner
Specialized Publishing, LLC

News-Entertainment-Advertising