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.
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.
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.
2 thoughts on “For Our Veterans, We Are Grateful: Minnie Griffin”
What a story! Read like the beginning a novel, but was real life. I knew Minnie slightly when she worked at Gila Community. A patriot and a gracious lady. Lucky for you daughters that you still have her. She is the same age as my mother, but mine passed away in ’03. Thanks for sharing.
Great read about a lovely, gracious lady!