US ARMY, VIETNAM, 1970-71
Michael Grant is the middle son of Jack and Kathy Grant. He was born is Illinois in 1948. Jack would join Marathon Oil and his responsibilities would eventually bring him and his family to the headquarters in Findlay.
Michael would attend Findlay High School, graduating in 1966, at the age of 18. As most young people that age, he had no real goals or direction of what he wanted in life. His father had served in the Army during WWII, so Michael considered joining the military, preferring either the Air Force or Navy. His father strongly discouraged him as the Vietnam War was ongoing and insisted Michael enroll in college. Michael was accepted in Miami University where he took business classes. He attended there a year and a half then transferred to and briefly attended Findlay College. Jack was transferred to Detroit. Michael joined the family and was accepted into Eastern Michigan State.
Michael was employed by National Can, working the midnight shift to pay for living expenses and tuition. Working full-time and carrying a full class load became too much so Michael dropped an early morning class, unaware that this would trigger him receiving a draft letter. Also, unaware that he could still choose which branch of the military he could serve in, Michael assumed that the Army was his only recourse and enlisted in 1970.
The Army would send him first to Ft. Bragg for six weeks of basic training and then on to Ft. Sill for AIT. He would be assigned to field artillery and head to Ft. Sill where he trained in Fire Direction Control. (FDC) Michael achieved high marks and was offered a slot in the Officer Candidate School. However, that would require a two- year extension on his enlistment so he turned it down.
Next stop for him was Bien Hoa, Vietnam, the headquarters for the 1st Cav Division, where he joined the 1/30 Artillery in August of 1970.
Michael’s job as a FDC was to sit in a hole in the ground, covered by a metal roof, along with a very heavy, very primitive pre-DOS computer, where he would program it with wind conditions and wait for request from patrols for artillery support. Once a unit radioed for assistance, Michael had to request permission to fire from HQ. Once he had permission to fire, his job was to calculate distance, elevation and windspeed to determine how many bags of powder were required to drop the HE shells of his three big 155’s beyond his soldiers and upon the enemy. The 155’s had the range of nearly nine miles, or to quote Michael, “a long freaking way!”
During his first eight months his artillery battery would be moved to five different remote fire bases by Chinook helicopters. During this time Michael was awarded the Bronze Star for Exemplary Service, and an Air Medal. In 1971, the 1st Cav would stand down and be removed from Vietnam. With four months left in country, Michael was transferred to the Americal Division in Tien Phuoc, located on an old French base. He didn’t mind because there was a real mess hall, and he got to sleep on a cot inside a building.
Michael protected himself, as much as possible, from emotional loss of fellow soldiers in his unit by remaining distant and unattached, a skill he learned from the many moves his family made during his school years. He also credits being older than many of the other soldiers helped keep him calm during his time in country. He remembers thinking how beautiful the countryside was from his view from the open door of helicopters as he flew to different firebase locations.
Michael returned to the U.S. in August of 1971. He still had time left on his enlistment and was sent back to Ft. Sill. His brother brought him his 1969 Chevy Nova and he spent the balance of his time being the “adhoc” base transportation for soldiers out processing. Due to the downsizing of the military he was granted an “early out”.
His last memory of Ft. Sill occurred the day before his discharge. While walking on base, a “newly minted” 2nd Lieutenant put him on report for having his hair beyond regulation length, even though he was leaving the next day. He was ordered to get a haircut or not be allowed to leave. “I complied and then did not cut my hair again for the next 11 years!”
Michael returned to Detroit and resumed his job at the can factory. He would become the Union shop steward and then was elected President of the United Steel Workers Local 7413. Life would take him to Ford-Lincoln Motors, then on to selling life insurance. His success with the insurance company would get him promoted and transferred to corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida. Michael would also have successful stints in automotive and paint careers.
In 1998, he had the fortune of seeing a pretty blonde lady drive by his house in a white corvette. Even though she lived in the same neighborhood, It took a year before he would finally be introduced to Joann, a teacher and doctorate candidate, the lady with the white vette! In 1999 they would marry and eventually settle down in a community just north of Tampa.
They spend their free time reading, binge watching Netflix, kayaking and supporting their NHL hockey team, the Panthers.
And yes he still sports a handsome ponytail!