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Originally from Tennessee, Herbert Lee Griffin came to Alaska in December 1969 as the base munitions officer with the 5010th combat support group at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. Lee loved flying and hoping to be an Air Force fighter pilot he joined the military in 1968 as a direct commission in the U.S. Air Force ROTC out of Memphis State University. He flunked the flight physical, so went on to be a line loading officer. He first served with the Titan Missile group at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado, and was then sent to Southeast Asia before coming to Alaska. He also was stationed at England Air Force Base in Louisiana, in eastern Turkey, and with the 6th Strategic Wing at Eielson Air Force Base until he was discharged from active duty in October 1980. As a pilot, he then served in the Air Force Reserve doing civil air patrol liaison work for the northern half of Alaska, and as a KC-135 crew chief with the 168th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard. After a total of 29 years associated with the Air Force, Lee officially retired from service in 1997.
In 1982, Lee began his civilian career working for the U.S. Army at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. His jobs included industrial engineer, technical writer, and environmental specialist with the Environmental Resources office. He retired in 2015. Although no longer with the Air Force, Lee continued to fly his own plane based out of his home in North Pole, Alaska. In 2015, at age 69, he made the trip of a lifetime by flying his North American T-28 Trojan 2,600 miles from North Pole to Osh Kosh, Wisconsin to attend the EAA AirVenture Fly-in Convention, an annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts. Lee continues to be an active member of the local Fairbanks flying community and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).