Melba Griffin

Female, #11622, (2 Apr 1907 - 12 Oct 1996)
Father*Robert Lewis Griffin (27 Sep 1872 - 9 Mar 1945)
Mother*Mayona Willingham (19 May 1877 - 15 Oct 1931)
Birth*2 Apr 1907 Melba was born at Goodwater, Coosa Co., Alabama, on 2 Apr 1907.1 
Census*1910 She was in the in 1910 census at Goodwater, Coosa Co., Alabama
Residence* Melba resided at Pequot Lakes, Crow Wing Co., Minnesota
Death of Mother15 Oct 1931 Her mother Mayona Willingham died on 15 Oct 1931 at Montevallo, Shelby Co., Alabama
World War II*between 1942 and 1945 She served in World War II between 1942 and 1945
Death of Father9 Mar 1945 Her father Robert Lewis Griffin died on 9 Mar 1945 at Glendale, Los Angeles Co., California
Death*12 Oct 1996 She died at Pequot Lakes, Crow Wing Co., Minnesota, on 12 Oct 1996 at age 89.1 
Biography* Mrs. G. W. (Elaine DeVaughn) Mendenhall wrote in a 8 Feb 1979 letter: Melba was on the faculty there [Alabama College at Montevallo, AL?] in the foreign language department until WW II when she joined the military....
      According to H. Clay Griffin in a 1 Jul 1994 phone conversation, Melba was one of the first Women's Army Corps (WAC) members and served on General Eisenhower's staff during World War II. In a 25 Jul 1994 letter, Clay added that "Melba became a Major on Gen. Eisenhower's staff." Mrs. L. Z. (M. Claire Griffin) Jelin wrote Jul 1994: About Melba Griffin First class of WACs at Ft. Des Moines, one of 6 from Ala. Head of Training Center at Ft. Oglethorpe. After attending Command & General Staff school at Leavenworth, Kan., sent to London & Paris. Served in Map room & Top Secret Dept. of the Chief Signal Office of the Communication Zone. And she bro't the first ship load of WAAC's home from the European Theatre on the New Queen Elizabeth.
      The following is from p. 85 of The Bunyanland Weekly Shopper and The Brainerd Daily Dispatch for Monday, 25 Mar 1991: Women and war: then and now By STACIE MANS Special Sections Editor It was a new experience for the men in the U.S. Army in 1942. Women were admitted into the Auxiliary Army Corps, and eventually the Women's Army Corps. It was such a new experience, that one former WAC recalls an episode when a box marked "A, B, C and D cups" was sent to the mess hall. Today, women are very much a part of the U. S. armed services. They are not allowed to fight alongside the men on the front lines, but they perform support roles. The women who served in the Persian Gulf War were the focus of many feature stories: our first female POW, women on the battle front, effects of their service on the folks at home. But women also played a very large part in a much bigger war over 45 years ago.... Melba Griffin, Perquot Lakes, volunteered for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942. She had been teaching in a small Alabama town and was among the first to sign up. "We were guinea pigs," said Griffin. "There had never been women in the Army Corps." She recalls that the men didn't adjust easily. "The instinct was to hold the door open (for women). It doesn't work like that in the Army. Everything was according to rank." Griffin received her training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, served as training center director at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and was sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for command and general staff school. After 1 1/2 years, she was among the first WACs sent to London. She was assigned to the headquarters of the communications zone, in the Plans and Training Department, where she was in charge of all top-secret documents that came into the office. "It was very exciting," recalled Griffin. "I knew when D-day was going to be." After 4 1/2 months in London, she was transferred with the headquarters of the communications zone to Paris. She finished her WAC career there as a major. Although Griffin was never in combat, she said bombings were daily occurrences. But she said women working as telephone operators were close to the front lines and suffered a great deal. Griffin said she agrees wholeheartedly with the idea of equal pay for equal work, but she's not so sure that women should be in combat. "I think there are few women who are physically able (to be effective in combat). There are other jobs, non-combat jobs, that are very important for women." 
ChartsBenjamin (son of Joseph) Culpepper of Edgecombe Co., NC: Descendant Chart
John Culpepper of Randolph Co, AL: Descendant Chart
Last Edited18 Oct 2008


  1. U.S. Social Security Administration, compiler, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Online database at