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franklin county times

Christmas in wartime

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Dec. 23, 2002
Pete Griffis, 80, has lived in Meridian for 55 years and is originally from Louisville. In 1944, he celebrated Christmas about as far away from Mississippi as he had ever been or has been since.
Griffis started out in the U.S. Army Air Corps, training to become a pilot, but he was transferred into the infantry, where more soldiers were needed. He served from 1942-1945 in the 78th Division of the First Army, fighting in France, Belgium and Germany.
He was hit by shrapnel in Germany during the bitter fighting that led up to the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded on Dec. 13, 1944.
Griffis was kept in an airplane hangar with other wounded soldiers until they could be flown to a hospital in England.
Griffis finally made it to England on Dec. 27. He was in the hospital for eight months.
Former U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery was in Germany that Christmas as well. A soldier in the 12th Armored Division of the Seventh Army, he remembers it was quiet that day on the front lines.
Alan Goldner remembers a particular Christmas Eve when he was in training at Cherry Point, N.C. He walked into the barracks and was all alone.