Paying tribute to the untold stories of his family’s courageous efforts during World War II, Stephen Griffiths ’68 recently published his second work titled Guerrilla Priest: An American Family in World War II Philippines. Griffiths, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and an English major at Hobart, wrote this book to depict the experiences of his father Rev. Alfred L. Griffiths ’28, P’68, L.H.D. ’61, mother Nessie Griffiths P’68, and sister Katy Griffiths Meyer ’61, in the Philippines to explain how the war influenced their lives.
“I’ve lived with their story a long time, and I’m happy now to share it with others,” says Griffiths, who details the Lamonan ambush and his family’s two years as prisoners of war in Japanese captivity. “But perhaps most significantly, it tells the story of how a young American family managed to survive a horrific war.”
In addition to describing his parent’s courage, Griffiths describes the realities of the war. After the first 16 months of the war, Griffiths’s parents and his sister were captured by the Japanese and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. “My father occasionally had nightmares about the war. They never talked about their wartime experiences unless they were in the company of friends who had been in prison camp with them,” says Griffiths.
Griffiths explains how his father’s training in ROTC while at Hobart, along with his dedication to his religious faith and commitment to service for others gave him the skills to act justly in difficult situations. “If you read the book, you’ll discover that my father never talks about his religious faith. Rather, he lived his faith. This got him through difficult situations, and it enabled him to take risks. He accomplished much as a result,” says Griffiths.
After the war, Alfred Griffiths returned to the United States where Stephen was born in 1946 and soon returned to the Philippines to rebuild the community. While in the Philippines, Alfred continued his missionary work at St. Paul’s Mission in Balbalasang. A year later his family returned to the Philippines, where they stayed until Stephen completed school and attended HWS.
Alfred and Nessie Griffiths’ original manuscripts will be available at the Stanford University Library, along with copies of original letters that were sent from Alfred and Nessie while they were in prison camp.