OKINAWA, Japan -- Retired Lt. Col. Frederick Grant, from Emporia, Virginia, enlisted in the Marine Corps Oct. 2, 1963. He served on active duty for 38 years, filling various enlisted and officer billets. During his Marine Corps career, he married Hiroko Grant, a Japanese citizen. They had two daughters and five grandchildren, all of whom continuously support him overseas. When he retired from active duty, he returned to Okinawa, Japan, to begin a government service career as the director of the Tactical Exercise Control Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Now, Grant is retiring from his 54 years of uninterrupted service with the Marine Corps.
Q: When did you join the Marine Corps?
A: I joined the Marine Corps October 2, 1963, and I retired after continuous active duty time on September 1, 2001. That was about 38 years. When I first came in, I was a normal infantry guy and then I became a communicator. I got commissioned as a Warrant Officer, as an interrogator translator, and I later became an intelligence officer.
Q: Why did you join the Marine Corps?
A: At the time, it was more of a locker room atmosphere. I had stopped going to school. I was looking for excitement and the Marine Corps recruiter really impressed me. He told me I would be able to trust the Marines beside me, and he was right. I also joined to see the world.
Q: After serving 38 years in the Marine Corps and retiring as a Lt. Col. what did you do?
A: I stayed right here in III MEF on Okinawa. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a government civil servant in the job here as the director of the Tactical Exercise Control Group. We run the simulations center for the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Q: When did you first come to Okinawa?
A: I first came to Okinawa in 1966. We were en-route to Vietnam. It was the staging area. I had another tour here in 1973, and of course I’ve been back here several times on different assignments and things.
Q: Describe your career.
A: I never thought of it as a job. I never consider myself going to work. Obviously there are dangerous times; there are exciting times; there are fun times, and I just feel very fortunate. The environment was great; it still is.
Q: Is your career now similar to your Marine Corps Career?
A: The leadership part is the same because I refuse to let it be otherwise. There are a few differences though. I don’t have to do a Physical Fitness Test anymore although I’m always willing to work out with the Marines. There isn’t much difference, and that’s because I choose it to be so. I could take the easy way out, but I don’t want to take that path.
Q: What do you like about being in Okinawa?
A: I’m a big fan of the people. I love the country of Okinawa, the people are very friendly, and the place is beautiful. I raised my kids here. I’ve been here 20-25 years, just in Okinawa.
Q: What opportunities has the Marine Corps given you?
A: I got an education, I raised a beautiful family, and I’ve met so many great people and Marines. I traveled all over the world.
Q: What are your plans when you’re done here?
A: I’m going to relax. I mean, it has been 50 some years, so I’m going to golf or something. I’m a big runner, so I’ll run in the Southern California sunshine. I guess the primary goal will be to reciprocate to my family all the support they’ve shown me throughout the years.
Q: What was the most rewarding thing you’ve done in the Marine Corps?
A: The most rewarding thing is the people. I met the woman that I married during my time in. On the other side, it was about being with all those Marines and other military people that I’ve met and had such a close association with them.
Q: You mentioned your time in Vietnam. Can you expand on that?
A: It was a small-unit war full of patrolling. Most of the time, I was in pretty safe areas. I’m reluctant to talk too much on it because there were so many that had it so much worse than I did. It was just very hard to describe.
Q: What were some of the hardest memories from that time?
A: I think the hardest memories were the casualties and seeing people that were not as fortunate as I was.
Q: If you could describe your career as a whole in a few words, what would you say?
A: This never felt like a job. Worked with great people -- great leadership in the Marine Corps -- and I’m pretty lucky.