Almost since day 1, it has been a tradition at FlyoverPress to republish “Hey Grimes” each Memorial Day. Gary Lynn Grimes was a pure and honorable man. His story is tragic but, more than that, it is representative of a generation betrayed.
Notice that the original was written in 2002—during the Slick Willie days. In the next to the last paragraph, I lament the (then) current condition in America. Can it possibly deteriorate in the next as many years as much as it has deteriorated in the last? Is this what Grimes died for?
Y’all have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend and, if you speak with the Supreme Commandant, don’t forget to put in a word for me and old Grimes. – jtl, 419
by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
19 Nov 02
Hey Grimes, what’s up? How are things going for you up there in Valhalla? With Memorial Day coming, I thought I’d drop you a line. I don’t talk about it much, but there has not been a single day in over 32 years that I haven’t thought about you.
I remember the first time we met. It was in Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton. At the ripe old age of 24, I was a good deal older than average. You’ve heard of the generation gap? Well, I was the gap. I had little in common with the guys of my rank, with whom I was allowed to socialize. But, although you were still very young, you were different–an enthusiastic, bubbling, peached faced kid from Amarillo, TX. Remember our big plans for me to teach you to ride bulls and bareback horses when we got back to the world?
Boy, what a couple of dreamers!
When we got in country, you went to 5th Marines and I went to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines. Since my Battalion and your Regimental Headquarters were both at An Hoa, we had several chances to see each other and renew our friendship. Any time that you were there, you always made a point of finding me, as I did you when I would pass through.
I’ll never forget the last time I saw you. It was about a month before we were due to rotate. You had been out with a CAP unit and showed up at my hooch wearing a flight suit and sporting a 45 in a shoulder holster. I didn’t ask where you got the flight suit and shoulder holster–just figured that you had traded some air-winger an AK (or something) for them. I’ll never forget the last conversation we had.
“Hey Grimes, what’s up dude?”
“Man, I’m being MedEvaced to Japan!”
I checked you out. You seemed to have all your appendages and didn’t seem to have any extra holes. “MedEvaced? What for?”
“Man, I’m eat up with parasites.”
“Parasites! Man that’s great!!! By the time they get you to Japan and get you cleaned up, it’ll be time to rotate.”
We knew that you had it made so we celebrated. As I recall, we snuck out into Duc Duc and captured a couple of liters of Gook banana rum. What a night! The next morning I sent you off. “See ya back in the world dude!”
When rotation day came and I got on the freedom bird, I was fully expecting to see you in a few days. The first morning back on Okinawa, I ran into Piasaki. Remember him? He was a mutual friend that had gone through Staging Battalion with us. That’s another conversation I’ll never forget.
“Hey man, did you know that Grimes is dead?”
“Naw, bullshit, Grimes ain’t dead.”
“Yea, he is too.”
“No he ain’t. I saw him less than a month ago and he was being MedEvaced to Japan.”
“I’m telling you he’s dead. I kicked his body the next morning. I was part of the relief force that got too them right after daylight. The VC overran his CAP unit and killed them all. It looked like Grimes had been one of the last left fighting. He had about 30 AK rounds point blank in his chest.”
I refused to believe it. I just came home and tried to bury it. I never made any attempt to contact you or your family–guess I didn’t want to believe it. Then finally, in 1983, I went to the wall and there you were—Panel 09W, Line 52, Gary Lynn Grimes. Born 01 June 1949 in Amarillo, Texas. Died 13 June 1970 in Quang Nam, South Vietnam. I cried.
It has only been just recently that I located your family. They are still in Amarillo and, from what little I know, seem to be doing well. Although I have your parents’ and brother’s addresses and phone numbers, I have still made no attempt to contact any of them. That is a wrong that terribly needs to be righted and, I promise, I will…someday…
As far as what’s going on in the world, you wouldn’t believe what they’ve done to our country. Remember all those greasy headed hippies that we used to hate so much? Well, they’re all grown up now and are in control of all our major institutions and all levels of government—everything from Congress to law enforcement to the public schools. Hell, one of them even became President. They are stealing our property, murdering our citizens, and generally making a mockery out of the Constitution—all under the color of law. What a mess! Oh well, hopefully, there’ll be plenty of time to fill you in on the details of all that later.
So, how’s it going for you? I suspect that promotions come pretty slow up there–after all, you are amongst the cream of the cream. But, knowing you, I’d bet that you are at least a Battalion Sergeant Major by now. When the Supreme Commandant decides to cut me a new set of orders, I’m hoping He’ll consider me worthy of joining you. Maybe you’ll have room for a good Company First Sergeant in your outfit.
Hope to see you up there dude!
LaBaume, Jimmy T, Cpl USMC
The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits. Although woven around the experiences and adventures of one man, this is also the story of the people who lived during the period of time in American history that an entire generation was betrayed It is the story of the dramatically changing times in which this personal odyssey took place. It is the story of the betrayal of an entire generation of Americans and particularly the 40% (of the military aged males) of that generation that fought the Vietnam war.