LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Hundreds came to Fountain Memorial Gardens Monday to pay their respects to Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin, Jr. He was one of four National Guardsmen and seven Marines killed March 10 when their Black Hawk helicopter went down off the Florida Panhandle. Griffin was remembered as a husband, father, son, patriot, and friend.
“I’m going to miss talking to him every day,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Solis, who knew Griffin for 21 years. “We had coffee every morning.”
Many of the mourners attended Griffin’s funeral mass earlier in the day in Hammond. That was followed by a two-hour long procession along Interstates 12 and 10 to Lafayette. Dozens of Patriot Guard Riders took part in the journey.
“We’re just standing for someone that’s stood for us,” said Patriot Guard Rider Robert Lebon. “We just want to give him a good send off and let the family know that we appreciate their sacrifice and his sacrifice.”
As with all burials with full military honors this one had a 21 gun salute but it also had something extra to honor Griffin’s background and experience.
Two military helicopters flew over the cemetery. Griffin had flown six thousand flight hours. One thousand were combat hours during two tours of Iraq.
Solis served with Griffin in Iraq and in other missions including Haiti, Honduras, Belize, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“Wayne, what I’ll remember most about is his smile and he always had a joke about something, but when it came to flying, he was always serious. Spot on,” Solis said.
Griffin worked for the National Guard full-time. Friends said he loved to fly, but knew and accepted – just as they do – the risks and dangers involved.
Griffin flew both helicopters and airplanes, but he was serving as a crew member on the Black Hawk that went down. Griffin was in the National Guard for 21 years. He leaves behind a wife and four children.