The following article appeared in the Friday March 6, 2015 edition of the Mexico Ledger (Mexico, Missouri): By Jim Wooten Staff Writer View attachment 22194 March 06. 2015 1:37PM American Hero Remains of Sgt. Rodney Griffin to return home after 45 years After 45 years, the remains of Sgt. Rodney L. Griffin, have been recovered and identified among a group of remains near where he was last seen close to Memot, Cambodia. Griffin's former wife, Donna, a resident of California, was notified last month as was his brother, Darryl. Plans are pending at this time as to when and where Griffin's remains will be interred. "Rodney's brothers, Bill and Darryl, submitted DNA samples years ago to the Army for use if Rodney's remains were ever found," said Griffin's widow, Donna. "Earlier last month, I received word from an Army official from Fort Knox that Rodney had been identified from among the remains of a group of servicemen found near the site of the crash in Cambodia. "The Army representative from Fort Knox who called is scheduled to call me next week to let me know when and where Rodney will be returned to the U.S. Rodney's family and I do not know where and when that will be. I know everyone who knew and loved Rodney wants him to come home." Sgt. Griffin went missing after surviving a helicopter crash while on a combat mission with the 2nd BN, 34th Armored Regiment, 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam near the border with Cambodia May 2, 1970. Enemy fire from within Vietnam caused the helicopter to crash across the border. Those not killed in crash, like Griffin, were able to escape and attempt to evade the enemy. Griffin was last seen firing his M-16 into the elephant grass. According to accounts of those who survived, the crew members and Griffin and his fellow soldiers who were passengers had less than a minute to decide whether to surrender or try to evade capture. Only one survivor made it to U.S. lines two days later. Griffin was not heard from again, nor did his captors confirm whether or not he was ever a POW. In country for six months at the time of the crash, Griffin wrote his family in a letter received just after the crash that he was expecting to receive R and R leave (rest and recreation) to Hawaii to see his wife. Donna Griffin was finishing high school at the time. He was also looking forward to his promotion from Specialist E4 to Sergeant E5 and the awarding of his sergeant stripes. While Donna shared that she and Rodney's family are touched by the outpouring of remembrances of him and love for all of them as a family, she said yesterday that she is taking the process one step at a time. "The response on Facebook has been overwhelming. But, we do not have decisions and plans made about bringing Rodney back home. We ask that everyone be patient until we do. We know from the outpouring of concern that everyone is relieved that Rodney will finally come home." Born in Mexico in 1948, Griffin's parents later moved to Centralia, where he graduated from Centralia High School in 1968. His picture and that of six other servicemen are displayed in the main hallway of the high school. Just a week ago, Mr. Mike Hann, American History teacher at the school, had taken the picture posted with the article out of the display to review with his students the history of the war in Vietnam. "It was Friday, Feb. 27 when I used the picture. Over that weekend, I received word that SGT Griffin's remains had been found and identified," Hann said. It has been a long 45 year wait for Donna and Griffin's family as well as the communities of Mexico and Centralia. Donna and Rodney were married in 1968 after he graduated from Centralia High School. She was three years younger but with her parents' permission, they were married before Rodney was drafted. He entered the Army in April, 1969. He arrived in Vietnam for what was to be a one-year tour of duty in combat. "It was 3 and 1/2 years after we married and he left for Vietnam before I knew (whether Rodney was being held as a POW and coming home or not). After the prisoners being held in Vietnam were released and returned home in the winter of 1973, the U.S. government said that the search for those missing in action by the government was over. After that only private citizens like Ross Perot and others eventually continued to look for Rodney and the others," she said. "Not long after I heard in February from the Army about Rodney being found, I happened to be watching a documentary about Vietnam on TV," she said. "A soldier who had fought and survived in Vietnam said in the film, 'Once you are in a war and your buddy dies in honor for you in combat, that person never ever leaves your memory.' That sums up my memories of Rodney." Another memory which is etched in her mind is seeing the Army officer at the door of her parents' home in rural Centralia. He had come to tell her Rodney was missing in action. Like hundreds of other spouses and next of kin of Vietnam servicemen missing in action, Donna was eventually faced with the decision as to whether or not to ask the Army to declare her husband to be presumed dead. In 1974, a memorial service for Rodney was held in the church in which he was baptized and in which they had been married. Since Griffin was born in Mexico, but moved with his parents to Centralia years later, people in both communities remember him with much affection and gratitude for his service and sacrifice. Writing as one of hundreds reminiscing about Griffin on on the "memories of mexico" group site, Ginny Waggett Pearl, said, "...I got out my Cline cedar 'chest' and found [his MIA bracelet]. I'm speechless...but so thankful for Rodney's family. Through all the passing years, I wondered if I would ever know the rest of his story, but thanks to wonders of Facebook, I do. I will try to keep up with The Ledger on line for more of this story...I will be wearing the bracelet again in his memory..." Christine Logston in Mexico is one of many who have shared their experience of remembering Griffin's service and sacrifice. "I knew my 4-H club was going to see the Wall in Washington, D.C. on a trip in 1993, and I asked my Mom if she knew of anyone whose name was on the wall. She gave me his name to look up," she said. Lisa Broemser Arnold remembers, "I was just a child when Rodney, his mom, Opal, and some of his other family came over to our house in Mexico just before he was to be deployed overseas. I remember a lot of hugging, telling him we'd be seeing him in no time...I also remember when he went missing...The tears, concerns, and attempts by his mom to contact people in Washington as to where her son was...I saw his name on the wall of POWs and MIAs in 1994 in Washington, D.C while attending a nursing conference. I know everyone who knew him will rest much easier tonight, knowing he is coming home for good." By January, 1973, Rodney's late mother, Mrs. George Griffin, was getting "about 15 letters a week from people all over the country who are wearing Rodney's bracelet. The family estimates at least 200 have the steel bracelets with Rodney's name, designating him as a prisoner of war/missing in action. People all over the country are obtaining the bracelets which are to be worn continually until the young men are found or their fates known," The Mexico Ledger reported on Jan. 17 that year. Instead of finishing his year tour of duty and coming home, or even enjoying his R and R with her after almost six months in combat, Griffin and his wife never saw one other again after he deployed for Vietnam. However, although Donna re-married 20 years ago, with two grown sons and her first grandchild, a baby girl, born last Thanksgiving, she keeps vigil from her home in California, along with his family and friends here. Now she awaits word for the plans to, finally, to bring him home.