Army Veteran Herbert Griffin is today’s Veteran of the Day.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Herbert Griffin, who fought on Utah Beach several days after D-Day.

Herbert Griffin was a member of the Army’s 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division. In June 1944, several days after D-Day, he crossed the English Channel and landed on Utah Beach. He was 18 years old.

The waves of the Channel were rough as the Americans approached the beach. “Everybody got sick. Everybody. We were throwing up on the floor, on everyone, and you couldn’t keep your foot on the ground because it was so slippery,” Griffin recalled.

He was weighed down with over 80 pounds of equipment and could hear gunfire, which indicated he would soon be exposed. “There in the bunkers, they [the German troops] had machine guns and mortars and all that. So, we had no protection,” Griffin said. “The sergeant said, ‘Get off the beach! Get off the beach!’” Without cover, the soldiers were “sitting ducks. They couldn’t find enough sheets to cover up the dead.”

Griffin managed to cross the beach and found shelter under the overhanging cliffs. He wondered what his parents would think when they received the telegram reporting his death. Then, he was hit in the right arm by an 88 mm Flak, a German anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun. Griffin spent the next year in and out of hospitals in Europe and the United States, where he begged the doctors not to amputate his arm. After a year of recovery, he was discharged from the Army in Waco, Texas. He earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.

Today, Griffin lives in Florida; in 2014, he was taken to the hospital for a medical emergency by station two of the St. John’s County Fire Department. Griffin formed a friendship with the firefighters that helped him, and they organized to send him to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Griffin was accompanied by his brother, Ed, a fellow World War II Veteran, on their visit to France.

We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Writer: Aubrey Benton

Editors: Nathaniel Scott, Alexander Reza

Researchers: Kennady Hertz, Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley

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4 Comments

  1. Senior Veterans Care Network June 16, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    We honor the service of Herbert Griffin.

  2. William Kapito June 14, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    My Uncle, William Silberman, was killed in WW II, just a day after it ended. He had a premonition that he was going to die so the night before he wrote a letter home. Since there was no Rabbi there, he gave it to the Chaplin and said if he doesn’t come back to send it to his sister (my mother). The next day he went out on patrol as a Scout and saw the Germans coming up behind his patrol.
    He stood up to warn them and was killed. His body was never recovered. My family and I searched for many years with no luck. He received a Purple Heart.
    I have read that last letter on Veterans Day on radio and people have asked it to be read two more times since.
    I bear his name, but never met him.

  3. James Mills June 14, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for this story. Hardly ever hear of the landings on Utah. My uncle – my namesake – was also part of the force that landed on Utah. Don’t know if he was part of the initial landing or later. He died on 22 June 1944. Thought to be machine gun fire. My thanks to Mr. Griffen.

    • John Branco June 14, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      I am creating a project to help all veterans around the world. I want to give thanks to Herbert Griffin for his service.

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