On 30 May 1991, while on duty providing care for Kurdish civilians and Coalition soldiers, LTC Gerald D Griffin’s clinic was captured by Shiite Fundamental Rebels. They threatened the lives of all the patients and medics on duty. The Shiite Rebels then robbed all the clinic soldiers and patients at gun-point. They then stole all the medical supplies necessary for clinic operation.
During the robbery, LTC Griffin was taken to another tent for interrogation by the Rebels. On their way to this separate tent, the Rebel’s locked and loaded on a patient and her family member, indicating their intent to kill the patient and family member. LTC Griffin, risking his own life, said “No.” and attempted to shield the patients. He was rifle butted from behind and pushed forcefully onto concertina barbed wire. He sustained multiple deep lacerations to his hands and arms as he fell into the concertina wire, and while freeing himself from the wire. He heroic actions distracted the Rebels, and enabled the patient and family members to escape without injury.
LTC Griffin was then taken, bleeding from his injuries, into a separate tent and further terrorized as he was interrogated with a gun muzzle held to his head. During the interrogation his life was further threatened with a heavy machine gun constantly trained on hi,. He gave the Rebels no information nor intelligence.
The Rebels were intent on taking LTC Griffin and the medics to their compound, to assure health care and food for their people. LTC Griffin learned the Kurds had been denying the Shiites food and medical supplies. He calmly and effectively negotiated with the Rebels for the lives and safety of all the patients and medics in the clinic.
Finally, bleeding from the wounds to his hands and arms, he negotiated his own release. The rebels left, threatening to return the next day. LTC Griffin’s hands were treated with makeshift bandages, because as stated before, the Rebels stole all the clinic medical supplies.
Dr. Griffin’s awards include The Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star Medal awards in addition to his Purple Heart Medal. He continued his service and retired as Brigadier General.
We honor you, Gerald Griffin.