John Grindel Sr. is a man with a mission. Correction. Heâ€™s a (ret.) Marine with a mission.
Heâ€™s the District Vice Commandant of the Marine Crops League Catawba Valley Detachment and heâ€™s looking for Marines, past and present, to form a Lincolnton detachment.
â€œWe have one in Gastonia with some Lincolnton members who would possibly transfer here,â€ he said in a recent interview.
Last week Grindel launched his Lincolnton campaign with a notice that appeared in the Lincoln Times-News. It garnered one response. Was it disheartening?
â€œI wasnâ€™t disappointed,â€ he said. â€œOf course, I would have liked to have had at least 20 responses, but we have to start with one.â€
Heâ€™s proud of being a member of the League and recalls how he came to serve in the capacity he currently serves.
â€œI received a phone call out of the blue from the second vice president in charge of recruiting out of his office in headquarters, which is located in Merrifield, Va.,â€ said Grindel. â€œHe simply just came out and asked me to lead Catawba Valley Detachment 1163.â€
Grindel admits being taken aback by the request because he had no idea how and where on earth the second vice president had gotten ahold of his name. Turns out, Grindel was known through his stint as a military recruiter before having retired after serving 22 years.
He fondly remembers his years in the Marines.
â€œI joined in 1946,â€ said the native of Pittsburgh, Pa. â€œI wanted to join in 1945, but my parents refused to sign the papers. Said I was needed at home.â€
When he finally turned 18, he immediately enlisted. By the time he mustered out, he was a P7 – Gunnery sergeant.
So it was never any question Grindel would again answer the call to duty, and heâ€™s glad.
â€œThe Marine Corps League is a wonderful organization that does many projects and activities,â€ he said and then ticked off several, such as Toys for Tots; VA hospital volunteers; and a mentoring program for young people, teaching them civics and citizenship.
Of course, the detachment is called upon for the ultimate project, providing military funeral rites, along with Taps and a firing detail. When possible, the firing detail will provide 21 rounds in volleys of seven per round.
Heâ€™s particularly proud of a current program, â€œMarines Helping Marines.
â€œItâ€™s our newest project,â€ he said. â€œIt helps those who have been injured serving our country and who will be in rehabilitation a lengthy period of time.â€
Most of those injured are sent to either Bethesda or Walter Reed and are away from loved ones much of the time.
â€œMarines Helping Marines helps send family members such as parents or a spouse to be by a Marineâ€™s side for awhile,â€ said Grindel. â€œThe program pays both transportation and boarding costs for seven to 10 days, depending upon the extent of injuries.â€
According to Grindel, the Marine Corps League was founded in 1923 and chartered in 1937 by the 75th Congress and signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
â€œIf Iâ€™m not mistaken, weâ€™re the largest chartered military organization among all the individual branches of service,â€ he said. â€œThe only military-related organization that probably is larger is the American Legion.â€
Grindel hopes the Lincolnton detachment will attract enough area residents who once served in either the Marines or were Navy Corpsmen in a relatively short amount of time. Heâ€™s also attempting to form another detachment in the Blowing Rock/Boone region, and heâ€™s had a hand growing detachments in Hickory, Morganton and Lenoir; the latter two were spun off from the Hickory detachment.
Towards that, heâ€™s been in contact with government agencies such as law enforcement and fire fighters, career paths many former Marines enter into upon leaving the service.
He now turns to the public and asks that if anyone knows of any Lincoln County area men and women who once served in the Marines, or those people themselves, to please contact him and help get a new detachment up and running.
Want to learn more?
Contact John Grindel Sr. at (828) 322-2541, or email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be reached by writing him at 3454 Huie St., Newton, NC 28658.
by Steve Steiner