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Texarkana veteran served in president's Honor Guard

Texarkana veteran served in president's Honor Guard

December 6th, 2018 by Greg Bischof in Texarkana News

Charles Griffin Jr. poses for a portrait on Wednesday in Texarkana, Texas.

Photo by Hunt Mercier /Texarkana Gazette.

The recent passing of former President George H.W. Bush struck up some fond memories for a local resident.

Just shortly before finishing Navy basic training in November 1989, the Navy offered 18-year-old Charles Griffin Jr. a chance to join its 120-man Ceremonial Honor Guard.

"This is something the military has to seek you out for and offer to you," Griffin, now 47, said. "It's not the type of job you can just apply for."

"It basically felt like going from one boot camp to another because we had to learn how to march and drill mainly during welcoming ceremonies for foreign dignitaries, such as kings, ambassadors or other presidents, visiting places like the White House, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery."

One of the more prominent occasions Griffin remembered participating included a Ceremonial Guard marching during a June 1990 summit Bush had in Houston with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

For Griffin, who eventually rose to the rank of petty officer third class, his height of 6 feet 4 inches was one of the main qualifying factors for the Ceremonial Honor Guard.

One of the lead requirements was, and still is, being at least 6 feet tall. Griffin more than filled the bill.

Before finishing his two-year stint serving with the Ceremonial Honor Guard in late 1991, he got the chance to meet and shake hands with Bush.

"He was very nice and you could see that he really cared a lot about his military," Griffin said. "He could especially relate to us guys in the Navy since he himself served in the Navy. I was in Dallas, last week, actually visiting with one of my fellow former Ceremonial Honor Guard members. We hadn't seen each other in 27 years. That's when we both heard and saw the news on television that President Bush had passed away. To me, it was actually like losing a family member. I also got to meet first lady Barbara Bush during one of those ceremonies at the White House. She was a very sweet lady."

Upon finishing his service in the Honor Guard, Griffin, now a local insurance agent, spent most of the rest of his regular time in the Navy, serving as security aboard a U.S. destroyer and getting to travel to places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, France and Spain. From there, he served in the Naval Reserves from 1993 to 2003. However, he said he will never forgot his time serving in the Honor Guard and visiting with the Bushes.

"That was a part of my life that I will never forget," Griffin said. "It really helped make me the man that I am today. I miss that experience as well as the chance to be around something so prestigious."    

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