SAN DIEGO - As 92-year-old Harold Griffel crossed the brow of the guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) on April 27, the ship’s crew prepared to give him traditional military honors.
Normally reserved for high-ranking officers and dignitaries, on this day they were being given to a member of the “Greatest Generation.”
Over the ship’s loudspeaker a voice announced: “Technician 5th Grade, United States Army, World War II Veteran, arriving.”
The bosun’s pipe sounded and side boys lining his path stood at attention and saluted as Griffel stepped on board a Navy warship for the first time since his service seventy years ago.
A native of New York, Griffel joined the U.S. Army in 1943. During World War II, he served as a rifleman in both the European and Pacific theaters and was awarded the Bronze Star. His service in the Army carried all the way to the conclusion of the war in 1945.
Throughout the tour, Sailors waited in line to shake Griffel’s hand and thank him for his service. He expressed his awe at the pride and hard work the Sailors put into maintaining their ship.
Among the Sailors who met Griffel was Logistics Specialist Seaman Jacolby Johnson, whose great-grandfather had also served in World War II.
“It’s always an honor to meet one of our nation’s heroes,” said Johnson as he shook Griffel’s hand. “Thank you for your service.”
All of the amphibious assault training Griffel received while in the Army took place in San Diego on board Navy vessels.
During his tour, he remarked on how incredibly modernized the ship was compared to the Navy ships he had been on during his service.
Before departing the ship, Griffel met with Cmdr. Adam Fleming, Wayne E. Meyer’s commanding officer.
“Sir, you have an amazing ship and a great crew, it was a pleasure to be on board,” said Griffel.
“No, sir. The pleasure was truly ours,” said Fleming.
Wayne E. Meyer is a multi-mission, guided-missile destroyer designed to operate in multi-threat air, surface and sub-surface environments and is assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.