Married - Arlene (Ivory) Griswold Sept 12, 1946 (high school sweetheart)
Children: Janet Centner and Judy Mekus
Grandchildren: Dara Sage, Susan O'Rourke, Heather Davis and Amy Pease
James A. Griswold
Great-grandchildren: Erin O'Rourke, Katlin O'Rourke and Jillian O'Rourke
Medals and Awards: American Theater, Asiatic Pacific and World War II Victory Medal.
Submariner- A U.S. Sailor assigned to be a part of an active commissioned U.S. submarine.
Naval job - Electrician mate, Second Class
Duties - While on a U.S. submarine maintain all electrical devices, check and maintain all batteries, repair any electrical problems that may occur. Also to perform any preventive maintenance items that will ensure safe and reliable performance of the submarine to keep its status at 100 percent to remain in our fleet.
U.S. Naval submarine- A watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. A submarine is not a U.S. naval ship. A submarine is a U.S. naval boat.
Primary mission - Surveillance and intelligence, special operations, precision strikes and battlegroup operations, having control of all seas.
Current Fleet Submarines by Class- Ohio Class, 18 boats; Los Angeles, 28 boats; Seawolf class, three boats; Virginia Class, five boats with four under construction and nine boats planned.
James A. Griswold was born on April 8, 1925, in Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. He is the son of Arden and Harriet (Shuler) Griswold.
As a child the family moved to Route 20 in Sheridan. Griswold's first six years of school was at Sheridan School 6, located on Route 20. Sheridan School 6 was a one-room school that averaged 15 to 18 students. He and his classmates were all in different grades and were taught by one teacher.
He had to walk to school each day, which was less than one mile. As a child Griswold had a hobby that at the time brought him in good money for a boy that age. It was called furbering. Furbering was trapping and skinning the skins of various animals. Back then trapping was not only legal, but was encouraged. Griswold's trappings were all within a few miles of his Sheridan home. Skunks, muscrats, weasels, raccoons and minks were prize traps. At the age of 7, he was bringing in $5 for muscrats and skunks and up to $50 for each mink.
When asked who at that time purchased the items Griswold explained that there were traveling buyers that visited this area every other week. After he graduated from the one class school his parents enrolled him in St. Joseph's Parochial School receiving his seventh- and eighth-grade education. His father was employed by Fredonia Builders as a carpenter, so it was easy for him now to have a ride to school. He attended St. Mary's Academy in high school.
It was very important for him to receive his high school diploma, however he had to overcome some obstacles in reaching this goal. Griswold had a problem that any boy his age at that time had to deal with. During the war years, if a male did not enlist into any branch of service by his 18th birthday, he would automatically be drafted by the U.S. Army.
This created two major problems for Jim Griswold. The first was that he didn't want to be in the Army, he wanted to be in the Navy. The second problem was his mother would by no means let him enlist into any branch of the service until he received his high school diploma. It was early April in the year 1943 and he knew that in just a few days the U.S. Army would be mailing out a letter addressed to him. Graduation wasn't until June 1943. Within eight weeks he needed a miracle to happen. He already had seen the Navy recruiter and completed everything he needed to enlist in the Navy. Now the only thing left was a parent's signature. Griswold knew that this signature wasn't coming until a diploma was earned. He went to extreme measures to fix his dilemma.
He went to the principal's office and explained to the principal his situation. Griswold's future was blessed. The answer to his problems was easy. Griswold was given a break he would never forget. The principal told him that he would set up a special exam for Griswold. If he passed he would be awarded his high school diploma. The test was set for the next Saturday. The principal had six teachers prepare six tests for him to take. Next Saturday came for Griswold, he took all six tests and passed them all. The principal advised his mother that her son had taken all tests and earned his high school diploma. His diploma was issued with the others in June. Griswold's mother signed the papers and while still at the age of 17, he graduated and also became a U.S. sailor.
Griswold was now on his way to boot camp. He was excited to be on his way to Sampson boot camp located in Seneca County in Central New York. After he arrived at boot camp he headed for the east shore of the base to start day one of his new naval carrier. Starting in Company 420, he graduated with Company 424 because he became sick with the measles. He had no idea what job the Navy had chosen for him. Thanks to being a life ranked Boy Scout, life only being one merit badge away from Eagle Scout, his knowledge from scouting came in handy. He was assigned to help signal with flags during classes in boot camp. Graduation day came and the Navy had different sights for Jim by designating him as a naval electrician. This would require some more schooling. Later that day Griswold found out that naval electrician school didn't require much traveling. It was located in Sampson.
While in electrical school a naval officer came in and talked about submarine duty, which peaked Griswold's interest so he immediately signed up for the next class. A few weeks later he was now in New London, Conn., and was training on a Navy submarine. His training consisted of diving in a sub each day for eight hours. It also included a decompression chamber and the famous Navy submarine diving tower. This is where he learned to surface from 25 to 50 feet from the tank's bottom. Out of the 64 sailors that started submarine school only nine passed.
His first duty took him to Oakland's Treasure Island Naval Base. From there they followed the USS Lexington to Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to the USS Sperry (AS12) a sub tender. A sub tender supports submarines with food, ammunition, fuel and anything the sub needs to operate. After that, Griswold headed to Majaro Atoll in the Marianna Islands. His duties were to work on submarines making sure they were always ready to sail in harm's way. His other duties were involved the ship's batteries, internal electrical connections and anything electrical.
Griswold recalled back in early 1944 a submarine named the USS Razorback sailed into port for repairs and on the boat he noticed a Dunkirk area naval office. Lee Towne Adams on the bridge, it really was awesome to see someone from the area that far away from home. They later met and talked for a while.
At Majaro Atoll, Griswold's crew built a recuperation camp use for submarines who came in from sea duty and had a place to just chill out.
New orders came in and the Sperry was headed for Oakland. A few days later his ship was headed for San Diego for repairs, upon completion it was off to Guam. While in Guam he worked in building another recuperation camp. He also purchased the engagement ring for his soon to be wife. Guam also brought new orders. He was headed to the USS Trigger, as a third class electricians mate.
He was very excited to be assigned to the Trigger. Sadness came on his second day on the ship, summoned to the COS (commanding officers) cabin. Griswold was informed that the USS Trigger required an electrician 2nd class to have a complete qualified crew. He had the rate of a third class electrician and received new orders to report to the USS Treadfin SS410. Five days after being on his new ship, the USS Trigger was listed as lost at sea. The Trigger was later removed from the U.S. Navy's register.
As the war ended the Treadfin had received it's final war orders to report to the Tominkinsville Naval Yard in New York's harbor in Manhattan. The ship sailed down the Hudson still with torpedoes that were intended to sink enemy war ships. The USS Treadfin had the honor to dock with over 121 U.S. Naval ships that had seen action in the war. As it sailed, he remembered passing ships like the USS Enterprise, USS New York, USS Missouri. He also passed the Midway, Intrepid and Saratoga Carriers. The Treadfin was grouped with 26 sister submarines.
On Oct. 27, 1945, President Harry Truman sailed down the Hudson River and gave his final inspection of the Atlantic Naval Fleet. The rest of the week all ships were open for review by the public. Later on, the naval life of the USS Treadfin ended up on school book duty.
What a story! Serving his country as a submariner, then coming back and starting a new life at his job at Fredonia Builder Supply Co., working there for five years. He later worked at American Locomotive Co. for five years and AL Tech for 31 years, retiring in 1987.
We have all seen World War II submarine movies and in each and every one of them it was clear to see that every time that boat sailed it was going into harm's way.
Just think about it. What kind of person does it take to volunteer go to on a boat and go underwater, knowing the possible dangers that await them? Not knowing if the ocean will claim him or whether the boat will malfunction. Not knowing how long this war will last.
Each week I get the honor to hear these great stories that have not been told in recent times. I am so honored to pass them on so these veterans get the honor they deserve. Jim Griswold is our hero of the week.