The family of a Mansfield man killed Christmas Eve 2012 in Afghanistan accepted honors and recognitions on the man’s behalf for his heroic services globally and in the Newton County community.
Joseph Griffin, 49, was killed December 24, 2012, while performing his police adviser and mentor duties in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was in Afghanistan as a military veteran advising the Afghan National Police when he was murdered by a policewoman. Griffin was contracting through DynCorp International when he was killed.
Griffin worked as a deputy with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, first from 1996 until 2000 and again in 2007. On Friday during an awards ceremony, officials with the sheriff’s office, DynCorp International and other officials presented Griffin’s family with awards and accolades in memory of Griffin and his service to their organizations.
Griffin worked in several of DynCorp International’s global training and mentoring programs since 2000 and began his most recent assignment in July 2011. He had worked in Kosovo, Liberia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
For his many contributions to the DynCorp International program, DynCorp vice president Mel Booker presented Griffin’s wife and parents with the Purple Star Award, the highest award given by the company. Griffin’s wife and parents accepted the award during the ceremony.
"He had a profound and lasting impact on our company and his name is engraved on our wall of remembrance located at our local headquarters," Booker said. "His name is alongside 70 other members of DynCorp International who have made the ultimate sacrifices supporting our customers."
"The people who work on these programs like Joe Griffin have a simple motivation, a general desire to make a difference in the world," Booker said. "With courage, determination, devotion and dedication, they travel to places they have never been and help people they have never met."
According to information from the sheriff’s office, Griffin spent the majority of his 16-year law enforcement career training police in dangerous and sometimes desolate locations throughout the world.
He was a veteran of the U.S. Army; Company A, 3rd Battalion, 6th Infantry. He served with the Berlin Brigade and received commendations for training soldiers in Military Operations in Urban Terrain.
During the last 12 years of his career, Griffin worked for various training programs throughout the globe. In 2000, he worked in conjunction with DynCorp International and the United Nations Mission in Kosovo to train local police.
In 2004, his law enforcement career led him to the Liberian coast of Africa. The United Nations Mission of Liberia awarded him the IPS Outstanding Leadership Award. He planned and drafted the entire proposed Police Field Training Program well before the first class of police officers had graduated. The program was adopted nationwide and helped to train and prepare 1,800 police officers in less than 15 months. The program is used to this day.
Griffin continued his training and advising at the Baghdad Police College in Iraq in hopes that the training he provided would help the Iraqi police confidently secure their country’s future.
In 2009, his expertise in training and law enforcement led him to Kandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan.
He worked in conjunction with the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and Afghan National Police Department Program, providing training and mentoring services. His awards and accolades were numerous.
During the award ceremony, reflections about Griffin’s work and his life were given by Lt. Thomas Kunz, a friend and colleague. Kunz shared stories about how he and Griffin’s family enjoyed trips together and how much Griffin loved fishing and hanging out on his family’s farm. He also said Griffin loved his family and enjoyed his work.
"Joe knew the value of good training. He knew the training he needed to be successful, and he took training serious and was passionate about his life’s work," Kunz said.
In addition to Griffin receiving the top honor on behalf of DynCorp International, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson presented the family with a proclamation honoring Griffin as a U.S. Citizen of Distinction.
Griffin’s widow, Rennae, said the honors bestowed upon her husband were bittersweet.
"I’m overwhelmed and my husband would be so honored," she said. "I’m speechless… tearful. It’s been bittersweet, that’s basically the word that comes to mind, to know that he has gotten so much recognition for his sacrifice and services."
Griffin’s parents, Shay Griffin and Elton Griffin also attended the awards ceremony. Shay Griffin said her son would have been humbled by the many tributes.
"We consider this an amazing honor for him. We feel that he would have certainly appreciated it and been honored. Ever so humble he would have been about it," she said. "This would have been unexpected and in his nature, he would have been very humbled."