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Army Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.

Died March 21, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

36, of Alhambra, Calif.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died March 21 in Balad, Iraq, from wounds sustained when his unit came in contact with small-arms fire during combat operations.

Decorated Stryker soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

FORT LEWIS, Wash. — A 36-year-old Stryker infantry squad leader from Fort Lewis, who received a Bronze Star for valor in an earlier deployment in Iraq, has died in that country of injuries suffered when he was hit by small-arms fire, the Defense Department said March 23.

Army Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr., of Alhambra, Calif., died March 21 at the U.S. military hospital in Balad after being shot in Baghdad. His unit came under fire as it was returning to base after conducting security operations in the Iraqi capital.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis.

Griffin was credited with saving the lives of five U.S. and Iraqi comrades in 2005, during his first deployment, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.

He went to Iraq in October 2004 with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division — the Army’s second Stryker brigade, the newspaper reported.

During that tour, he was honored for saving the lives of three U.S. and two Iraqi army soldiers during combat in the northern city of Tal Afar, Fort Lewis spokeswoman Erin Benson said.

Griffin, who was married, is the 93rd service member from Fort Lewis to die in the Iraq war.

“Griff was the type of man you want to have by your side in a fight,” Maj. Brent Clemmer, his former company commander, wrote from Iraq. “He was the type of squad leader every young soldier wants to have.”

A memorial service was tentatively scheduled for March 30.

Soldier from Alhambra dies in Iraq

The Associated Press

ALHAMBRA, Calif. — The final e-mail Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Griffin Jr. sent his wife included a prescient quote from a Greek translation he was reading.

“Spartan women of Greece used to tell their husbands, before they went into battle, to come back with their shields or laying on them, dying honorably in battle,” he wrote to Diana, his wife of 12 years. “But if they did not return with their shield, this showed that they ran away from battle.”

Griffin, 36, sent the message four days before he was killed by enemy small-arms fire in combat near Baghdad on March 21.

“Cowardice was not a Spartan value,” the Alhambra resident wrote. In the e-mail, he described Diana as his “Spartan woman of strength and virtue.”

Called Skip by his family, Griffin was nine months into his second tour of combat duty in Iraq when he was killed. He returned from his first tour in 2005 with a Bronze Star with Valor, awarded for saving the lives of three American and two Iraqi soldiers injured during battle.

“He was a really patriotic young man,” said his father, Darrell Griffin Sr., who lives in Van Nuys. “He said that the people there really needed us and he felt it was the right place to be. He wished we didn’t have to have wars, but since that’s the way mankind is, he felt he was contributing an important part to his country.”

The eldest son of six children, Griffin worked as an EMT before joining the California Army National Guard in 1999. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and in July 2001, was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Ft. Lewis, Wash. He served with that unit in Iraq from October 2004 to September 2005.

He returned to combat last year with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, also based at Ft. Lewis.

Griffin wrote about his experiences there on a blog.

“If I return home safely,” he wrote, “I will run for office in some capacity and will introduce a long forgotten type of leadership.”

In addition to his wife and father, Griffin is survived by his stepmother, Kim Tomomatsu Griffin of Van Nuys; and siblings Alexis Griffin and Jordan Griffin, both of Van Nuys; Christian Griffin of Northern California; Rene Griffin Tomayo of Houston; and Sommer Stapp of Greenfield, Mo.

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