GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A B-25 flew through blue skies Saturday for a local World War II hero.
Maj. Thomas Griffin, one of the last five surviving Doolittle Raiders volunteers who took part in the famous bombing raid on Tokyo that was depicted in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor," was remembered in Green Township Veterans Park.
"He literally lived history," U.S. Representative Steve Chabot said of the man, a B-25 navigator who made his home in Green Township after the war. "He thought he was just doing what he was trained to do."
Griffin died Feb. 26. He was 96. He eluded Japanese capture, but in 1943, he spent two years as prisoner of war in Germany after his plane was shot down.
Chabot spoke at public services that started at noon in the park where Griffn walked every day. The warbird moved to Cheviot with his wife after World War II where he worked as an accountant and raised two sons. He kept quiet about his time as a Doolittle Raider, until his sons learned their father was an American hero.
"We may have a rough time convincing him this was all for him," said Gary Griffin before a large crowd of his father's humility. "That quality is something you don't see, well frankly you don't see it in my generation, or the next bunch coming up. And that's really admirable."
Gen. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, Col. Richard Cole, participated in the services along with Chabot, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, the honor guard from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps.
Cole is now one of only four surviving Doolittle Raiders.
Rob Reider, a family friend of Griffin and air show announcer described how much Griffin, and the Raiders did for the country that was fighting a battle on two front at the service as well.
"While their raid did little refutable damage to the Japanese homeland, it did give that huge boost of morale, that we've already heard about, for the American people," Reider said. "We are thankful that Tom Griffin lived such a long life, sharing what the Doolittle Raiders did so that we will remember and others will learn what our freedom actually costs."
The four surviving Raiders will gather together for what could be the last time at their final annual reunion on April 17-21 in Fort Walton Beach.
Read more about Griffin and the Doolittle Raiders at http://www.doolittleraider.com
See a video interview with Griffin: (For mobile and tablet users, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1UPXLUhkHc to view the video.)