Tribute to a Childhood Friend

Hugh Griffin c1941

Hugh Griffin was a boyhood friend.  During the early 1940s we often roamed the beach together, talking, laughing, and sharing good times.  Hugh was a quiet, unassuming sort, and I liked him a lot.  He was truly a good person and a loyal friend.

I was a year older than Hugh, and when I began high school we saw each other less often.  Gradually, over the years, we had fewer and fewer contacts.  I had a new set of friends, and it was probably my fault, but eventually I lost touch with him entirely. I went off to college and then married. Shortly after completing military service I moved out of state.

Hugh joined the navy and served during the Korean War.  His last two years of service overlapped my time in Korea, though neither of us was aware of that fact.

After leaving military service Hugh became a member of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.  He served them faithfully for 21 years, and I am certain that he was a conscientious and effective officer.

On September 14, 1975, Trooper Griffin stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation. Two men were in the car. Hugh noted some problem with the automobile registration, and he asked the men to follow him to the nearby patrol station.  As he stepped away from the car the driver grabbed a weapon and shot Hugh in the back.  The wound was fatal.

Unknown to Hugh, the car that he had stopped was stolen, and the men inside that car had shot and killed a store owner in Wilmington six days earlier.  Later, both men were captured, tried, sentenced and imprisoned.

As I remember Hugh, I think of those officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect us from mayhem.  I pay tribute to my friend Hugh and to the many others who made the ultimate sacrifice, and I salute all of you who continue to serve us so faithfully.   

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