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Episode Info: ir field. The United States Marine Corps offered Griffith the chance to earn his wings. After basic infantry school, a requirement for every marine, he began the two-year process of learning to fly. No one simply jumps into a cockpit. Hours upon hours are spent in the classroom learning aerodynamics, navigation, and aviation mechanics. The Marines sent him for preliminary training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There’s nothing easy in these schools where even the brightest and physically fit struggle to learn everything from the Bernoulli Equation of the airfoil to survival if shot down. Then follows hours and hours in various training aircraft. Only the best and brightest are chosen to fly fighters, and Griffith made the cut. The Marines fly the F/A-18, a smaller platform than the famed F-14 Tomcat or larger attack aircraft. This plane combines fighter capabilities, the ability to deliver ordnance payloads, and has conversions for in-flight refueling and electronic warfare. While most fighter pilots have ten manuals to learn for air-to-air combat, the F/A-18 pilot must learn an additional ten for air-to-ground operations. Griffith learned them all and earned his wings as he’d first proclaimed he would as a kindergartner. After stints in Meridian, Mississippi and Lemoore, California, he’d eventually settle into life in Beaufort, South Carolina with the Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533. Life as a marine aviator in peacetime is one of constant training. This also meant he had to gain qualifications by successfully landing on the pitching flight deck of an aircraft carrier, moving toward a catapult to be shot off, and land again to earn enough “traps” as they’re called. One of his fellow pilots remembers him as a true professional in the cockpit while also a loving husband, doting father, and tremendous friend. On the day that changed everything for everyone, 9/11, it set Griffith on a path for war. The United States had assets in Afghanistan almost immediately, but his first experience happened in the Iraq War in 2003. He flew in Iraq every day delivering ordnance for both the army and marines in highly tense s...
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