Marine officer with unique specialty retires after 3 decades

27 Oct 2011 | Cpl. Khoa Pelczar 1st Marine Logistics Group

After 30 years of dedicated service to the nation, a Marine wore the desert utility camouflage uniform for one last time at his retirement ceremony here, Oct. 27.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeffery D. Grasz, one of only five electro-optical maintenance officers in the Marine Corps, said goodbye to the Marines and sailors he served with as he retired from the Corps.

For his final duty assignment, Grasz returned to Ordnance Maintenance Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, where he worked for most of his career. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Christian D. Richardson, said he was humbled and honored to be Grasz’ retiring officer.

“I couldn’t be more proud standing in front of the man retiring here today,” Richardson said. “During his 30 years, he has made a tremendous influence on Maintenance Company due to his leadership, his technical expertise and his selfless dedication.”

Contributing to the ceremony was a message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, addressing Grasz.

“During your career, the Marine Corps has been involved in combat, and it has because of Marines like you that the Corps has acquitted itself so well on the battlefield,” Amos wrote. “You can be proud to have been a part of that legacy and to have attained your grade in an organization such as ours.”

Looking back at his career, Grasz witnessed countless changes the Marine Corps had made.

“Every piece of gear that we have, we’ve changed them twice since I’ve been in,” he said. “A lot has changed since 1981, but we’re still training Marines and we always get the job done.”

During the ceremony, Grasz addressed the Marines and thanked them for their hard work.

“The Marines I’ve worked with were phenomenal,” he said. “They worked hard and I’ve never seen them complain. It’s rewarding to be a Marine and see what they’re capable of doing each and every day.”

As proud as he is to be a Marine, Grasz said he knew that he wasn’t doing it alone as his family, especially his wife, has been there every step of the way to support him.

“My family has been phenomenal. I can’t say enough I appreciate their support,” Grasz said. “My wife has been there for me from the beginning. There have been times that she had to take care of all four children all by herself. She would do anything to lighten my workload. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

His wife, Lori, took care of the family whenever Grasz was away on assignments or deployments. Grasz has deployed in support of numerous operations during his 30 years, including Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Grasz said he owes all of his achievements to his wife.

Richardson recognized the sacrifices made by his wife during the ceremony.

“As Marines, we know what we’re getting ourselves into once we joined this organization,” Richardson said. “But our family, they didn’t sign up for this. As much as this ceremony is about one of our brothers leaving the Corps, it’s more of a tribute to the sacrifices made by his family and friends.”

Grasz also received a letter of appreciation from the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama. In the letter, Obama wrote, “I extend to you my personal thanks and the sincere appreciation of a grateful nation for your contribution of honorable service to our country… Your commitment and dedication have been an inspiration for those who will follow in your footsteps, and for all Americans who join me today in saluting you for a job extremely well done.”

Amos also expressed his appreciation in his letter: “As you leave our active ranks, go with the knowledge that your distinguished service will have a lasting influence … The Corps is better because you served, and our nation can stand proud because it produces Marines like you.”

Now retired, Grasz’ dream is to work for the Expeditionary Systems Evaluation Division, a contracting organization hired by the U.S. Navy to test and evaluate weapon systems for the Navy and Marine Corps.

But before leaving with his family, Grasz shared a few words with the junior Marines.

“For the lance corporals and below, there are four things that will make you a good Marine and that is – be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform and just do what you’ve been told. You can’t go wrong. That’s what made the Marine Corps so successful.”

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