Major General Richard B. Griffitts, Ret.
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1939 - 2013
Richard Griffitts, 73, passed away at his home in Tampa, FL on February 12, 2013 following a 17 month battle with pancreatic cancer.
Rich was born in Nampa, ID on December 22, 1939 to Homer & Lois (Hastriter) Griffitts. Richard's birth mother and newborn sister both tragically died in childbirth when Richard was two. 18 months later, Homer, married Violet (Vanderford) Griffitts who became "Mom", raising Richard as her own from age three. Richard's family soon grew with the birth of two brothers, Cliff and Kent.
Rich grew up in Nampa, hunting, fishing, playing football and running track; graduating from Nampa High School in 1958. Rich attended Idaho State University, graduating in 1963 with a BA in Journalism and commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Later Rich earned an MA in Organizational Communications while attending the Army War College in Carlisle, PA. While at Idaho State, Richard married Judy Wolfensberger of Rigby, ID. They later divorced and Richard married Anneliese Baum who was his devoted wife for 32 years until his death.
Richard was a highly successful officer in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Major General. Rich was a natural leader with a "command presence" that was evident early in life, leading his brothers through Saturday chores, complete with "breaks" listening to "Gunsmoke" on the radio. Rich was a "soldiers General", putting the interests and accomplishments of troops ahead of his own.
General Griffitts served two tours in Vietnam; one in '67-'68 as Company Commander of a mechanized infantry unit of the 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands; and a second, '71-'72 as District Senior Advisor with the South Vietnamese Army in Khanh Hoa Province. Between tours, Rich served on the ROTC cadre at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
General Griffitts held a wide variety of command and staff positions, culminating in assignment as Deputy Commanding General, First United States Army, Fort Meade, MD. Other key assignments included Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, Policy and Intelligence, Allied Forces Central Europe, Brunssum, Netherlands; Assistant Division Commander, 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army Europe; Deputy Dir. of Operations, National Military Command Center at the Pentagon; Deputy Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Army, and Commander, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division U.S. Army, Europe.
After retiring from the U.S. Army in 1995, Richard directed a U.S. State Dept. sanctioned Democracy Transition Assistance Program in the Republic of Croatia and a Stabilization & Deterrence Program, Republic of Macedonia, 1995 - 2001.
General Griffitts military education included Advanced Armor Officer courses, the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College and the General Officers' Capstone. General Griffitts was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (3OLC), Bronze Star Medal with V (3OLC), Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He also received numerous foreign awards, including the Honor Medal in Silver from the Federal Republic of Germany. Richard wore the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge.
In 2001, Rich retired to Tampa, FL and spent many happy days "doing recon" on fairways and greens at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Trinity. Richard served on the Board of Operation Home Front Florida and as President of Hampton Cove Homeowners Assoc. Richard and his wife Anneliese were also very involved with humane society work in Pasco County, FL.
In addition to being a patriot and distinguished military officer, Richard was a great husband; father, son, brother, uncle and friend. Rich had a terrific sense of humor, was an avid reader, student of history, and great storyteller who could entertain for hours recounting his various adventures. Richard had a way of boosting people, making you walk a little taller and feel a little prouder. He was loved and respected by many and will be greatly missed. While he traveled far and wide throughout the world, he always held a special place in his heart for Idaho and his family and friends who lived here.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Homer & Violet Griffitts of Nampa. He is survived by his wife Anneliese, sons Marlon (Cynthia), Wiesbaden, Germany, David (Carmen), Springfield, VA, Robert (Kate), New York City; grandchildren David & Nathan; brothers Cliff (Connie), Caldwell, Kent (Linda), Nampa; nieces Heather, Jaime, Bree, Abbey and Andrea; nephew Drew; grand nieces & nephews Andrew, Vanessa, Carson, Madelyn, William, Lydia, Dutcher and Chloe, along with numerous cousins.
Richard will be buried with full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. at a date yet determined. Memories may be shared with family by visiting Richard's on line guest book; legacy.com/idahopress.
Published in Idaho Press Tribune on Mar. 17, 2013