Bishop, Va. – “Greater love hath no man than this, to lay down his life for a friend,’ John 15:13.
Willie Roger Griffith laid down his life in Vietnam for his fellow soldiers and he was honored in this community Sept. 18 with a ceremony unveiling his name on a bridge on the Virginia-West Virginia state line.
He was awarded the Purple Heart as well as two Bronze Stars. According to the Army, Griffith exposed himself to enemy fire so his comrades could find cover. He was killed when he was 20 years old.
“This young man, not even old enough to vote gave his life for his country. His act of heroism earned him awards from the United States and South Vietnam,’ Supervisor Maggie Asbury said. Bill Vance, a neighbor of the Griffiths remembered going with the messenger to tell the family Roger had been killed.
“He, (The officer), told me exactly what Roger did, his platoon was pinned down and another comrade was wounded over the hill. Roger grabbed a weapon and went over that hill to bring his comrade back but, it didn’t work out that way,’ Vance said.
Vance asked people to remember Griffith every time they crossed the bridge. Homer Hardy, commander of Barns-Beavers Post 7136 presented a commemorative coin to John Griffith, first cousin of Roger and Cody Mumpower read a letter from Delegate Morgan Griffith commending Roger Griffith’s service.
John Griffith, his sisters, Patsy Walker and Dixie Mitchem were given replicas of the marker that is now on each side of the bridge. John Griffith unveiled the marker honoring his first cousin.
The Tazewell County Supervisors passed a resolution asking that the bridge be named in Griffith’s honor last November and the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved it in December.
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