James Griffith has spent his last few years in Kansas, since retiring from the United States Navy. He will soon move to Florida, but had one more stop on his list of things to do before going east.
He and his wife visited the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, where a model of the USS Will Rogers Polaris Nuclear Submarine shares an exhibit with the USS Will Rogers, a World War II Liberty Ship, christened in 1943 by Betty Rogers.
Griffith was chief of the boat for both the blue and gold submarine crews (one was off while the other was on the sub).
He was the senior enlisted man “making sure it operated smoothly and orders were interpreted properly,” he said.
The nuclear sub was launched July 21, 1966, christened by Mrs. Hubert Humphrey, and decommissioned in 1992. It was largely in the North Atlantic fleet, but cruised the world, never firing a shot in anger.
Griffith served under the command of Peter Dolan and retired as a master chief after 26 years in the Navy. He met his wife, Faith, a Milwaukee, Wisc., native, at a USO event 40 years ago. They moved to DeSoto, Kansas, to be near family, but will soon make Florida their destination.
“He always wanted to visit the Museum here,” said Faith. It was their first trip to Oklahoma. Griffith was not disappointed; in fact was pleased to learn that a larger model of the submarine is on display at Claremore’s Will Rogers Junior High School.