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Sailor, MoH recipient honored 121 years after death

May. 28, 2013 - 09:52AM   |  
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SPRINGFIELD, MASS. — A Civil War sailor from Springfield who was credited with rescuing men from a sinking ship has finally been recognized with a marked grave.

For more than a century, all that showed the burial site of Luke M. Griswold at Oak Grove Cemetery was a stone engraved with the number 297. Griswold, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, died in 1892.

The Republican reported that with $500 from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and the efforts of a Baltimore Army veteran, a marble gravestone was installed at Griswold’s burial site in April. On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, visited the grave to mark Memorial Day.

“It is only fitting that … this son of Springfield receives the proper recognition for what he did in the Civil War,” Neal said.

The gravestone was arranged by J. Donald Morfe of Baltimore, an Army veteran who has helped install memorials for 220 Medal of Honor recipients.

With other volunteers, Morfe photographs graves, decorates them with American flags and coaxes the government or private groups to buy gravestones. Morfe said he did not expect to find so many Medal of Honor recipients lacking better memorials.

“I was flabbergasted at first,” he said.

Many of the unmarked graves date to the Civil War and Spanish American War. But recognition also has eluded many Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

On Dec. 30, 1862, a supply ship dispatched rescue boats for the crew from the USS Monitor, which was sinking in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C. The Union’s first ironclad ship, the Monitor had fought with its Confederate counterpart, the Merrimack, in one of the war’s best-known sea battles.

After delivering two groups of Monitor sailors to safety, Griswold’s boat was blown off course and presumed lost. It drifted 50 miles before being picked up by a passing ship.

Morfe recently visited the cemetery to photograph the new gravestone.

“There’s something to honor him now,” he said.

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