Colonel Thomas P. Griffin, USAF (ret.)
“was twenty years old when he flew his four-engine B-24 Liberator bomber, Little Lady Joyce to Italy and joined the
Fifteenth Air Force's assault on Fortress Europe. Recalled to active duty during the Korean War, he
remained in the Air Force until his retirement with the rank of Colonel on 25 October 1969. According to
the AVMA, “From 1941-1969, Dr. Griffin served in the Air Force, first as a bomber pilot during World War II, and, later,
as a veterinary officer with the Air Force Veterinary Service. He attained the rank of colonel. Dr. Griffin was a diplomate
of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and a member of the Texas VMA.” Colonel
Thomas P. Griffin died in May 2005. He is the author of Fast Track to Manhood.
According to the book description,
of Fast Track to Manhood, “Fifty-five years after World War II, a B-24 Aircraft Commander
who flew thirty missions against heavily defended targets throughout Hitler's Europe, relates the story of his “fast
track to manhood” as bomber pilot and prisoner of war.
Lieutenant Thomas P. Griffin and his ten-man crew were on their thirty-second bombing mission over Germany on 24
May 1944, when their B-24 Liberator received battle damage from German Messerschmitt 109 fighters. They were forced to parachute
from the burning aircraft at an altitude over 20,000 feet. As part of the 450th Bombardment Group, the "Cottontails"
as they were known because of their distinctive white-painted rudders, were participating in the United States Fifteenth Air
Forces assault against Hitler's European Fortress.
Griffin and his crew came under intense
fighter and ground-fire time and time again. He flew against the heavily defended Ploesti oil fields of Rumania on 5 April
1944 when scores of B-24s were shot down in flames. Lieutenant Griffin witnessed many parachutes as survivors of crew after
crew bailed out of stricken bombers.
the sometimes tragic, sometimes comedic incidents associated with flying heavy bombers as well as his experiences being a
prisoner of war in Stalag Luft #3, which was an allied flying officers camp located at Sagan, Germany. He shares the jubilation
of his liberation by forces of the United States Third Army commanded by General George S. Patton. Fast
track to Manhood documents the bravery of the young men called upon to fly the heavy bombers against staggering odds including
the airmen of the 450th Bomb Group, and specifically the crew flying the Liberator named Little Lady Joyce.”