Pastor Bob Grenier


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Being in Vietnam was a goal of mine. I felt I must go and fight. I enlisted in the Marine Corps, rather than being drafted. I felt the Marine Corps was the most prestigious of all the branches and the hardest. I thought if I could get through it in the Marines, then I could make it anywhere. My, how I was mistaken. I had my initial (3) three stages of training for Boot Camp at Parris Island, Advanced Infantry training at Camp Lejeune North Carolina, and Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton. I walked up the stairway of the plane and stopped at the top, turned around and paused, looking out over El Toro Airfield. I thought, “I’ll never see America again, I’m sure I will die in combat.” I got on the plane and made my way through Okinawa, Japan, to Da Nang, South Vietnam. As I deplaned and stepped onto the tarmac, I thought “I’ll never leave here alive, I will be in a body bag after dying.” What a way to start a tour of duty getting ready for being in Vietnam.

I received training for Flame Throwers, Bazooka’s, and 106 Recoils Rifles and assigned to H and S company, 2nd Battalion 1st Marine Division, which was located 12 miles south of Da Nang. My time there was short because my father was dying of cancer at the young age of 48. So, I came home early because of his impending death. While in the country, I have come to realize in my later years, that when you take a young man and put him in a combat situation, it is hurtful to his soul, even though he may not realize it at the time. God spared my life more than once when there. In fact, we were heading out on a major mission against the North Vietnamese Regular Army soldiers; these were not farmers by day and warriors by night, these were our counterparts. All I remember was sitting on top of an armored vehicle; our corporal told us “Boy, you all are going to be assaulting fortified North Vietnamese Cement Bunkers with your flamethrowers.”

There is not even a measurable life expectancy for that kind of attack, as the men inside those bunkers have machine guns and they stick them out of small openings and fire away. Suddenly, I was told wait, a helicopter is coming for you. Sure enough, it did, I got on it, and was told, you are heading back to Florida because of your father. As it turned out, my dad did die, and my company and battalion of fellow Marines were in a place called Khe Sanh, where 200 to 300 mortar rounds were shot from the enemy into a wire set up all around our battalion. Many Marines died there; it was a horrible time for the USMC. Day by day back home, I would think of them, and read about the war and mourn for them. All I can say looking back is that God spared my life from being among the nearly 60,000 service men and women who were killed in that war, and had other plans for my life than being in Vietnam.

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