The first American commander over Berlin meets the first American commander over Tokyo, Grif meets Jimmy Doolittle in this US Army publicity shot from 1944. Grif sent me this photo back in 2000.
It is with great sadness that I report that Grif Mumford has flown his final mission. Grif was a good man and a friend and I will miss his knowledge and his willingness to help keep the history of the air war in World War Two alive. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to correspond and talk with Grif. He was always open, always helpful, always a gentleman. God bless you, Grif.
The following is Grif's obituary from the San Fransisco Chronicle.
Col. H. Griffin Mumford -- pilot led 1st daytime bombing of Berlin
John Koopman, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, July 20, 2007
The date is March 4, 1944. A squadron of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers is high over the skies of Germany, on its way to Berlin, the most heavily protected city in the world at the time and the capital of the Nazi regime.
A radio call comes in and a voice tells the pilots, "You are to turn back and abort the mission ..."
Col. H. Griffin "Grif" Mumford commanded that squadron and had the unenviable task of deciding whether to turn his aircraft around or continue on the first daylight bombing raid of Berlin.
Col. Mumford flew on. His radio operator could not get proper confirmation that the radio message was legitimate. The four-engine bombers made it to Berlin and dropped thousands of pounds of bombs on the German people.
When he returned to base at Horham, England, the colonel was hailed as a hero and awarded the Silver Star.
Col. Mumford died July 7 at Marin General Hospital after having suffered a fall earlier that the week. He was 89.
"I don't think that raid (over Berlin) was so important militarily," said the colonel's son, Toby Mumford of Tiburon. "It had more propaganda value than anything else."
In fact, the German air marshal, Hermann Goering, had once boasted that Allied aircraft would never bomb the Fatherland. Col. Mumford's raid was not the first time Berlin was bombed, but it did mark the first time U.S. aircraft dumped their payloads during daylight hours, allowing for more precise targeting.
"I wonder if they (the bomber crews) realize the significance of this mission," Col. Mumford once said during a speech, remembering the moment. "That it could be the turning point of the war."
After that raid, bombing runs routinely flew over the German capital. The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945.
Col. Mumford was born in Missouri on Feb. 26, 1918. He moved with his family to El Paso, Texas, when he was 6, and his father died a year later. Col. Mumford attended the University of Texas in El Paso, but left to join the Army Air Corps in early 1940.
Toby Mumford said his father loved to fly, and he soon became a flight instructor. He trained on the B-17 bombers and went to England as a bomber pilot with the 95th Bomb Group in 1942. He arrived as a captain -- at the controls of his bomber, called "I'll Be Around" -- and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and squadron commander.
After the raid on Berlin, Col. Mumford remained with the 95th until he returned to the United States in early 1945, his son said.
After the war, Col. Mumford was discharged. Among his decorations were two Silver Stars, one Bronze Star, the French Legion of Honor and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
He moved to San Francisco to work for his father-in-law at the Ocean Shore Ironworks. Nine months later, he was back in uniform, this time with the newly created U.S. Air Force.
Toby Mumford said his father held a variety of posts in the Air Force until he retired in 1970 at the rank of full colonel.
After he retired, Col. Mumford worked for another 20 or so years for Hill Real Estate in San Francisco. He played a little golf and fished, but mostly Col. Mumford stayed active in the 95th Bomb Group Association. He spoke and wrote extensively about the work and the missions of the B-17 crews in the war.
"He was a guy right out of the Tom Brokaw book," Toby Mumford said, referring to "The Greatest Generation." "It was important to him that people remembered what went on during the war."
Col. Mumford's wife, Jacklyn, died in 2004. He is survived by his sister, Neva Miller of Hemet (Riverside County); son, Toby; two daughters, Trudi Costello of Tiburon and Gretchen Pattengill of San Diego; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. July 26 at St. Hilary Church in Tiburon.
God bless you, Grif.