American flags surrounded the Holy Ghost Catholic church on Monday morning in Hammond as hundreds of people came out to pay their respects to father, son and American hero Chief George Wayne Griffin Jr. who was killed in the UH-60M Black hawk helicopter crash, March 10.
A visitation service was held from 9 am until 11 am, followed by a funeral service. Chief Griffin tragically lost his life in a Black Hawk Helicopter crash on March 10th, over Florida during a National Guard exercise. Chief Griffin leaves behind his wife and four young children.
“The man had a God-given talent. He could make a helicopter do things that other people would just dream about. He’s a great pilot.” said Major Tim Cleighton.
Major Tim Cleighton was Chief Griffin’s roommate during his first tour in Iraq in 2003 to 2005. Major Cleighton was happy to see such a large turnout for the service, saying the Chief deserved nothing less.
“It’s overwhelming it really is from unit members to the family members. From the community to our organization, as well as the family members, its nothing but overwhelming. I really can’t describe it any other way.” said Major Cleighton.
After the service, a processional with hundreds of officers on motorcycles from all over Louisiana and the Patriot Guard began the two hour escort ride to Lafayette, Chief Griffin’s final resting place. State Police vehicle led the caravan from the Ambassador Caffery exit, to Eraste Landry Road, turning onto Foreman, and Marie Antoinette then ending at Fountain Memorial Cemetery, 1010 Pandora Street. One rider from the Patriot Guard’s, son is in the military, and says it’s one of the many reasons he wanted to be a part of the service today to honor Chief Griffin.
“Our hearts go out to this family they are living our nightmare. When a parent has a child in the military and they are on deployment and they are serving. Every night when a parent goes to sleep they are wondering what’s going on with their children, how are they so thoughts and prayer go out to the family and they have our support .” said Ken Dugas.
Major Cleighton said unfortunately the mission of the military must go on, however the soldiers who lost their lives will never be replaced or forgotten.