Michael Grimm only had to listen to the stories told by his grandfather, a World War II veteran, to understand the gravity of fighting a war and what it means to serve one’s country. This early fascination with the military sparked Grimm’s interest in enlisting, though his path in the armed forces could have been much different.
“I was originally in the officer program while I was in college,” Grimm recalled. “I did my first year of college and I didn’t like it, and I got this salty old gunnery sergeant who grabbed me and said, ‘You know, you got what it takes to be a real Marine. You need to enlist.’ And I got all excited, and the next thing you know I was … getting my head shaved in Parris Island.”
Grimm served during the first Gulf War in Kuwait, where he was a field radio operator—“If you’ve seen the old Vietnam movies, the guy with the radio on their back,” he said—a nerve-racking position considering that radio “grunts” are typically the biggest targets during battle because of their importance in relaying information. Grimm received a “combat meritorious promotion” for valor on the battlefield, bumping his rank to corporal.
After leaving the Marines, Grimm continued his public service by joining the FBI, where he served as an undercover agent before graduating to become a special agent. Grimm ran for Congress in 2009, partially as a response to what he felt was President Barack Obama’s “apology tour” regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a citizen and former Marine he was offended, Grimm says, because he had friends still serving in Iraq.
“The one thing you also learn in the military: We’re certainly not perfect,” he said. “We’re not a perfect nation because we’re a nation of individual human beings, and human beings are always gonna make mistakes. But we’re still the greatest nation in the world, and we don’t go into foreign lands to conquer and add to our wealth; we go to foreign lands and spill our most precious treasure, the blood of young Americans, so that we can provide hope and freedom.”
Grimm added as a caveat that war should always be considered “the last option” in an international conflict.
“Our military has so many scars that we’ll never see, that they’ll never talk about, and that’s why we need to always be mindful of that whenever we’re discussing sending troops anywhere.”
Military Branch: Marine Corps
Rank Achieved: Corporal
NEXT STORY: On The Front Lines: Angelo Santabarbara