Admiral Charles Donald Griffin (January 12, 1906 - June 26, 1996) was a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who served as commander in chief of United States Naval Forces Europe from 1963 to 1965 and as commander in chief of Allied Forces Southern Europefrom 1965 to 1968.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joseph Richard Griffin and the former Maude Spicknall, he moved to Washington, D.C. as a child, where he graduated from Central High School in 1923. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1927 and was commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy.
After initial duty in battleships and destroyers from 1927 to 1930, he underwent flight training and was designated a naval aviator in 1930. During the 1930s, he served in an air patrol squadron and as a scouting pilot aboard the heavy cruiser Chester, and studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan, where he received a master's degree in 1937. From 1937 to 1940, he was attached to Scouting Squadron Six aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise, then was a flight test officer at Naval Air Station Anacostia from 1940 to 1942
During World War II, he was commander of Carrier Air Group 9 aboard the aircraft carrier Essex from 1942 to 1943, participating in air raids on Marcus Island, Wake Island, the Marshall Islands, and Rabaul, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. In 1943, he became operations officer for Task Force 58 in the Pacific. He was detached in 1944 to plan operations in the Pacific theater as a member of the Joint War Plans Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After the war, he was commanding officer of the escort carrier Croatan from 1945 to 1946, making two transatlantic trips to ferry troops home from France as part of Operation Magic Carpet, then served as operations officer aboard the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was plans officer for the United States Atlantic Fleet from 1946 to 1947
In September 1948, as a captain, Griffin received sudden orders to report to the Strategic Plans Division (OP-30) in the Department of the Navy as officer in charge of special projects. "That meant practically nothing to me when I heard this. It wasn't too long after I got back there that I got head over heels into the business of the so-called revolt of the admirals -- the B-36 affair. I found that the special projects had to do with the preparation of statements for the chief of naval operations on very critical points."
In October 1949, Griffin was directed to prepare a position paper on the controversy for Chief of Naval Operations Louis E. Denfeld to present in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. After placing the completed draft on Denfeld's desk, Griffin visited Denfeld's office every day to solicit feedback, but "it became quite apparent to me that Admiral Denfeld was not going to take any fast action on this because he, himself, was feeling his way along."
Finally, the day before Denfeld was scheduled to testify, Griffin received a call at 7 a.m. to appear at Denfeld's office at 8 a.m., where Griffin and three others were assigned to compose Denfeld's statement. Using Griffin's paper as a rough draft, the four men worked all day long, eating lunch and dinner in Denfeld's office. "The last page came out of the typewriter and was approved by Admiral Denfeld at three o'clock the following morning. He delivered the statement at ten o'clock that morning before the Armed Services Committee and Secretary of the Navy Matthews was just wild. I use that word deliberately..."
Matthews relieved Denfeld as chief of naval operations after hearing Denfeld's testimony, which contradicted the official positions of the civilian Defense Department leadership. Other Navy officers who participated in the controversy also saw their careers stalled or ended, but Griffin emerged unscathed. "The other people involved in it didn't all get hurt. I didn't get hurt and it was well known, I think, that I had a lot to do with writing that statement."
Griffin completed his tour in the Strategic Plans Division in 1950 and became a student at the National War College, from which he graduated in 1951. He served as plans officer for Commander Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1951 to 1953. He was commanding officer of the attack carrier Oriskany from June 1953 to July 1954, operating with the Seventh Fleet to monitor the recentArmistice in Korea