For Our Veterans, We Are Grateful: Minnie Griffin

Minnie was born in 1921 in Stoughton, Massachusetts, grew up during the depression, and graduated from Brookline High School in 1939.  She took all the business courses she could, as she knew she needed to work.  She was very adept at business machines and English grammar and was hired by Western Union as a teletype operator after graduation.

When assigned to the Washington, D.C. line, her job was sending telegrams which began:  “We regret to inform you…”  By then, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, and the spirit of patriotism was huge in Boston.  Feeling she needed to do her part, Minnie enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and was inducted in Boston Garden in March 1943.img_7624

While at basic training at Ft. Oglethorpe, GA, she marched in revue for President Franklin Roosevelt.  When the WACs approached him, they were given the order “eyes right.”  She felt it was an honor to parade for the President and knew that he cared about them.

Minnie earned her corporal stripe after completing Radio Training School and was assigned as a teletype operator.  She was sent back to Ft. Oglethorpe for overseas training and received orders for England.  She spent five days crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary and reached her assigned post at the 8th Air Force base in Watford, England, where she worked in the teletype office.  She received messages regarding weather conditions, which dictated when pilots were able to drop bombs over Germany.  She would meet her husband Jimmy Griffin at this base.  An Army sergeant, he worked in the weather office, and often Minnie was the WAC who delivered weather information from her office to his.  With all of England blacked out, their dates involved walking with flashlights into the town of Watford.

Minnie’s next orders were for Charleroi, Belgium, and Jimmy was transferred to High Wycombe, a base near London, where they would reunite after her tour in Belgium.  They had already submitted paperwork and were married in England June 11, 1945.  Upon her discharge, she received a Good Conduct medal and medals for serving in the European Theater of Operations and during the Battle of the Bulge.

The Queen Mary would transport her back to New York, and she recalls the sight of the Statue of Liberty was overwhelming, because when she left, she didn’t know if she’d ever see Her again.IMG_7623.JPG

Minnie and Jimmy reunited in Boston, took a train to Arizona, and arrived at the ranch in December 1945, expecting their first child.  She recalls Jimmy telling her he had “lots of cows,” and was dismayed when they drove down the dirt road to the ranch, and she never saw a cow!  She and Jimmy moved into the small ranch house with his mother and her life as a ranch wife would begin.  They would have six children, and all are active in ranch operations to this day as part of the Griffin Ranch partnership with Minnie at the helm.

A Lifetime of Military Service to Arizona State Cowbelle President

This week we are pleased to continue our series featuring Arizona cattlewomen who have also served our country in the armed forces. Pam Turnbull, the president-elect of the Arizona State Cowbelles, served many years in the military and continues her serving ways with many other organizations in her community. We asked her a series of short questions so our readers could get to know her better.

2nd Lieutenant Pam Turnbull in her everyday uniform in 1985.


Arizona Beef Council (ABC): Tell us about yourself and your background in the military.
Pam Turnbull (PT): I am from Alamogordo, New Mexico, a small, patriotic town surrounded by agriculture and a strong military presence, with wide open spaces offering unusual adventure nearby. A short drive led to so many fun places, such as the White Sands to the west, mountain meadow picnics in the summer and tubing/skiing/sledding/ice skating in the winter to the east, our uncle’s ranch and cousin’s orchards north of town, and great hiking to the south.

Men in every generation of my family served in the military before I was born – from the Revolutionary War on to my father and grandfathers. One of my great uncles served with Pershing chasing Pancho Villa and in World War I, then with Patton in World War II. We also had a neighbor who survived the Bataan death march and was a prisoner of war. He and his wife really pushed me to go to college and seize the new opportunities for women in the US Air Force. I attended New Mexico State University, joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), and received a B.S. in Ag Business Management.

In a tent with a Canadian Major and a US Army “customer” working on permanent offices, accommodations and munitions storage for NORAD and National Guard forces defending the National Capitol Region.

During 23 years of military service, I had great opportunities. I lived in or visited 21 countries, 43 states, 3 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, plus, attended the Air Force Institute of Technology and received a Master of Science in Logistics Management.  In reflecting on my military career, the focus of my efforts was to create tools with technology, focusing on innovation and modernization.

Pictured in Washington, D.C., setting up military defenses post 9/11/2001.

The USA has been “at war” since 1989–fighting aggression, drugs, and thugs– and sending humanitarian aid all over the world.  One of the jobs where I knew I made a HUGE difference FAST was developing barcode, smart card, and RFID capabilities and installing global infrastructure (and mobile tools) for distribution management. My favorite job was making airplanes fly as leadership on flight lines with fighter, bomber, airlift, tanker and reconnaissance aircraft.  Providing aid and shelter in our homeland was also rewarding–air dropping feed to cattle and other livestock when floods or massive snow storms hit the Midwest and Northern states, hurricane recovery efforts and earthquake search and rescue missions, delivering supplies to snowbound mountain towns while downed power lines were rebuilt – to name a few.

ABC: How are you involved in the cattle community?
PT: My involvement in the cattle community these days is as a consumer, promoter, and the neighborhood “beef broker” (sharing pasture raised, soy-free beef from the Barnard’s at WhiteBarn Farms in Portal and butchered at the Willcox Meat Packing House). I also have a brother and cousin with cow-calf operations near Carrizozo and Mayhill, NM.  Plus, I am the President-Elect of Arizona State Cowbelles and Immediate Past-President of the Willcox Cowbelles.  I am also Beef Quality Assurance certified and a Master of Beef Advocacy 2.0 graduate.

Pam’s retirment photo in uniform.

ABC: What is the most important life lesson you learned from your service in the armed forces?

PT: Always be true to yourself and your own priorities.  Wherever the path leads, live each day with Personal Responsibility in your Daily Efforts (PRIDE)!

Pam adds, “To those who help feed the world, THANK YOU!”

From the Armed Service to Ranch Life: The Stories of Hard Working Women

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we thought it was best suited to feature a few of our Arizona cattlewomen in a series of blog posts. The ladies we will feature over the next several weeks not only worked hard on their family’s ranches but also fought for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. We are so excited to share the stories and hope you enjoy!

Marie Pyeatt, long time rancher and supporter of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the Arizona beef community, will kick off this series. Please read and enjoy her story.

Marie Korea.jpg
Marie hard at work in Seoul, South Korea as the Battalion Supply Officer.

Marie Pyeatt was born in Ogden, Utah, April 16, 1946 to Dr. Edgar and Lena Reynolds Higgs. She was the fourth of five children and grew up in Clinton, Utah. 4-H was a way of life in her house. She completed multiple 4-H projects each year from the time she was 10 years old until she was 21. In 1962, she won a trip to the National 4-H Club Congress held in Chicago, IL. She graduated from Clearfield High School in 1964 and received her BS at Utah State University majoring in Home Economics Education in 1968. She taught Home Economics at Layton High School in Layton, Utah for 5 ½ years where she was the department head for 3 of those years.

Marie was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant and joined the US Army in January 1974. After officer training at Fort McClellan in Anniston, AL and Signal Officer Basic Training at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, GA, she was transferred to Fort Huachuca, AZ in July 1974. While there she was assigned as a protocol officer with the Army Communications Command twice and various troop assignments with the 11th Signal Group. In April 1975, she married James Pyeatt, a third generation Arizona rancher, and one week later became the first female company commander in the 11th Signal Brigade when she assumed command of the 526th Signal Company. In January 1976, Marie was promoted to Captain Pyeatt. Three years to the day, she left for Fort Gordon to attend the Signal Officer Advanced Course in July of 1977.

Marie pictured at Phoenix Cooks! an annul foodie event where the Arizona State Cowbelles and Arizona Beef Council serve beefy samples to attendees.

In January 1978, Cpt Pyeatt was assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion in Seoul, South Korea as the Battalion Supply Officer. Being assigned to the Communications Electronics Engineering Agency, she returned to Fort Huachuca in December 1978. Attending the Management Information Systems Officer Course at Ft. Ben Harrison, IN in 1979 changed her career path to the computer field. She chose to end her active duty service and change to the Army Reserve status in December 1979. After serving in the Reserves at Ft Huachuca, AZ and Ft Lee, VA, Marie was promoted to Major Pyeatt at Ft Lee, VA in 1984.  After a few more years of reserve service, she made the choice to go to the Inactive Reserves.

Marie became a full time working ranch wife in January 1980. She enjoyed her time in the saddle, checking and working cattle, helping with branding, fixing fence and all the other things we do on ranches. After spending her whole adult life working with people, she found that only having dogs, cats, cows and horses to converse with was not enough to keep her brain active so she started taking classes at the local community college on a part-time basis. Two days a week she went to school and the others she spent on the ranch. In 1987, Marie graduated from Cochise College with an AAS in Computer Information Systems. She was an associate faculty member at Cochise College in Sierra Vista from 1987 to 2010, teaching various computer-related classes.

Marie continues to support our troops through various programs one of those being the “Steaks for Troops.”

Being part of an active cattle ranching family during this time, she was also involved in the Arizona State Cowbelles organization. She was the Santa Cruz County Cowbelles President from 2005 to 2008 and served as the Arizona State Cowbelles President from 2008-2009. Marie participated in multiple activities and held many offices with the Arizona State Cowbelles over the years. She is also active in the American National CattleWomen, Inc serving as Communications Committee Chair from 2011- 2013 and is on the ANCW Foundation board of directors.

Along with Cowbelle activities, Marie has been the secretary/treasurer for the Southwestern Pioneer Cowboys Association since 1996. Marie was elected as a member of the Santa Cruz-Cochise County Farm Service Agency committee in 2014 after being a minority advisor for the Pima-Santa Cruz County committee for a number of years. She is also a member of the Southern Arizona Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee and is currently serving as President of the Black Oak Cemetery Association.

Marie (second from left) continues to serve through various organizations including the Cowbelles. Pictured are the Elgin-Sonoita Cowbelles and Arizona State Cowbelles after feeding the 86th Battalion, who had just returned from the Middle East, a delicious beef meal.


When asked about the most iimportant lesson she learned while in the army she replied, “Keep your priorities straight. If it isn’t life threatening for you or someone, DON’T PANIC – even then, handle that priority first without panicking.”