He finally was allowed to join the US Coast Guard, but soon left due to illness. But then he would again later emerge as a soldier with the US Army and began a very distinguished career culminating with the awarding of the Medal of Honor while giving his life to shield others from a grenade attack.
Over many, many years Don has traveled across the US, and beyond, and taken well over 2,000 photo's of MOH recipients final resting places. He has also led the charge of the society and others in the identifying of markers that fail to tell the story of the deceased's military heroism by finding these graves.
Family and cemeteries are consulted and then a movement started to have the proper authorities...or others if need be... funding the making of, and transport of new stones to the cemetery and having unveiling ceremonies to duly commemorate these heroes.
The Master Sergeant is shown above, as are the old marker and the new marker that Morfe and others arranged in 2013.
That of the USS Monitor and the so called Merrimack, usually misspelled as Merrimac. Trouble is, even that is not right. The correct name was the CSS Virginia. But from the stone above, everyone who saw it was robbed of the true story. As was this fellow's family.
But our American friend Don Morfe would fix this one too!
But the day before, the CSS Virginia destroyed the Union's fleet on hand by sinking the USS Cumberland and the USS Congress and grounding the USS Minnesota. It cost the union navy over 100 men, but only two for the Confederates. The first being a Canadian from New Brunswick. Many Canadians fought on both sides in this battle both on ship and land.
Within days the British government and others around the world stood up to take notice, with the Brits immediately ordering the stopping of all construction of wooden hulled vessels. The rest of the world would soon take note.
But getting back to #297, his name was Luke M Griswold and he was a navy man from Springfield Massachusetts. and serving on the USS Rhode Island. On 31 December 1862 the Monitor was caught up in a very bad storm and became waterlogged and therefore without steam and dead in the water. Griswold's Rhode Island was tasked with saving the crew who had to bale out.
He and a handful of others made two trips out into the gale in a small craft to make the rescue but on the third trip out, loaded with Monitor crew, got themselves blown off course for some 18 hours and when finally rescued by a passing ship where by then 50 miles off course.
In June 1865 he and 7 others would be awarded the Medal of Honor for this bravery. Some say It was the first time in history, by date of deed, that MOH's were awarded for actions not in the face of the enemy.
One of the men rescued was a sailor by the name of Scott, born in Montreal. One of the sailors serving on the Cumberland at the earlier battle with the CSS Virgina was James MacIntosh also from Montreal, who about 2 years later would earn his own MOH at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Yet another on the Cumberland Oliver O'Brien from St John's Newfoundland, would also earn a MOH, but more on him later.
In January 2013 Don Morfe had some great success in identifying the grave for Griswold who passed away in 1892 and was buried in his hometown of Springfield Ma.
On his efforts to get the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to help with the finances for a proper MOH marker, someone there apparently suggested that without a SIN number the department could not help. How could one be obtained? The concept was not even invented till 44 years later. DAAAAh!
The good folks at the MOH Foundation jumped in to help out and financed the new stone unveiled in 2013. And here it is...
There is more to this story but it is getting long so I will leave the rest till next Sunday.
See you then.