PFC Lawrence J. Griffin,

Unknown Sailor

PFC Lawrence J. Griffin

Lawrence John Griffin turned 22 a few days before he was killed on the U.S.S. Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Griffin was a Marine private first class from Westwego, Louisiana on the west bank of the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

A younger brother, Robert Joseph Griffin, followed him into the Marines in the fall of 1942, just after his 17th birthday. He, too, was a private when he was killed on the opening day of the Battle of Tarawa in the South Pacific, a fight the United States won at great cost. Nearly 1,000 of the 18,000 Marines at Tarawa were killed and 2,000 more were wounded. Seventeen of 4,500 Japanese troops survived.

The two youngest Griffin brothers, Max and Wayne, served in the Army during the Korean War and survived.

Their parents were Laurence Opte Griffin, a carpenter, and Lydia Rodriguez (sometimes spelled Rodrigue) Griffin, a homemaker. The family, which also included three daughters, attended Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Westwego.

Lawrence John, the oldest son, was born Dec. 4, 1919. He was a member of the Arizona’s whale boat team, which was runner-up in the Pacific fleet races during the summer of 1941.


Sources: U.S. headstone applications for military veterans;; the New Orleans Advocate; the New Orleans Times Picayune; Census; draft registration card; family grave markers. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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