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The Grimm Truth
by retired Major, Russ Grimm
4/3 CO takes fight to Charlie'By mid-May of this year it was quite evident that a change in operational concepts was necessary. Casualties inflicted on our forces were abnormally high, and the battalion had not in any way succeeded in its mission of interdicting the movement of enemy forces throughout the AO ...' (RG-notice he does not indict the previous commander or indicate when he took over - i.e. mid May)
The lack of resident NVA/VC forces in the AO indicated that we could probably go ahead and use a saturation concept of operations in the AO without any undue risk. Nevertheless, I decided it would be profitable to get as much empirical data as we could so as to get a good, factual look at what we had in the AO.
Enemy LocationsWe started off by making a simple relief and drainage diagram in hopes that it would show us some rather logical routes of movement that had been missed during our operations in the past. In addition to that, we went back into the S-3 journals for a period of four to six months and resurrected all the grid coordinate locations of contacts, both by the enemy against us and by us against the enemy, as well as the various types of enemy installations-that is, way stations, base camps, overnight locations, caches, and so forth. In addition, where we could, we resurrected whatever trail information we had. Basically, there wasn't a great deal other than on the contacts and fortifications, and it remained for our saturation concept to fill in the picture. We did get one thing from it. As we suspected, some areas appeared to lend themselves to ease of movement both east to west and west to east. But interestingly enough, there had been no enemy fortifications and contacts either in the rain valleys or in the stream valleys, nor had there been any on the ridges. Basically, they were off on the secondary fringes running from the main ridge and generally some distance down from the top. Based on this information, then, we formulated a plan to have three companies operate in the field at one time, each one being assigned an area of operations and with the areas abutting ...
Having broken down the AOs, the idea was to prepare an LZ just as if a company were going in as it had in the past with good artillery and air support, if we could get it. These LZs were always well away from the company's actual or the intended area of operations, and we're willing to give up three days of the 12-day operational period for the unit to move by stealth into its intended AO ... On entering the company area of operations, the platoons are broken down into squad-size elements, and they then conduct multiple squad patrols and ambushes within that AO ...
The ambushes include mechanical ambushes, as opposed to those manned by personnel. Our concept is to put mechanical ambushes into locations where we would put a manned ambush if we had the force. Until we could get training back at the firebase, we initially started out with at least one mechanical ambush per squad. We are now up to three mechanical ambushes per squad throughout the battalion. The initial ambush locations are spotted on a map by a company commander. His squads move individually to the map locations, adjust as necessary to the actual conditions on the ground, move on through, select their sites for the mechanical ambushes, install them, and move back just about dusk to their manned ambush sites. The following morning, they go out and pick up their mechanical ambushes, move toward the next map location, hole up during the day, leaving security out so that they can sleep. Late in the afternoon they move through the map location, establish the mechanical ambushes, and move back into the manned ambush sites. This is repeated.
Ambushes'If the mechanical ambushes go off, we generally try and check them as soon as possible. Now our only criterion for the mechanical ambush is that it be placed within earshot of the particular squad that's putting it out. Sometimes it's possible for the squads to go down and check them if they go off during the night; otherwise, they are removed the next morning. In either case, they're within 81mm-mortar range, and the mortar is fired throughout the night if the mechanical ambush goes off and the squad cannot check it. Of course, this requires good fire control and exact knowledge of where the squads are ...' - Infantry Magazine
As a career infantryman and maverick - he firmly believed that being proactive saved lives in the long run - and in leading from the front.
His Career and Awards
'His career and awards exemplify his approach to mission and men'.Silver Star: On 29 May1970 he came under heavy automatic weapons fire. Col. Grimm had his helicopter land and led a rescue party to a downed helicopter and 'with complete disregard for his personal safety he then carried the the wounded pilot to his own helicopter under a hail of enemy small arms fire ... serving as an inspiration to his entire unit'.
As his obituary relates (written by me), he made his way through the ranks from private to Colonel - sought combat - Korea and Vietnam (2 tours) - sought line over staff - Ranger School at 30, LRRP, SF, 5 companies (Inf, ABN, Mech) and a previous BN CDr tour in Korea - turned down a consecutive senior aide to a 4 star tour in Hawaii - was considered 'old' by Infantry Branch when he sought a BN command in Vietnam.
The causes of the war and status of politics, in or out of the Army, could not alter the facts or immediacy of the situation. He willingly took over a unit in combat. He grieved to his dying day for lost comrades and men he commanded in two wars, especially those caused by what he considered leader incompetence or negligence.
As one veteran stated to me 'I will always remember your Dad as a good man. There are some who won't or can't, but they failed too see the whole picture and will never understand the complexities of command'.
My brothers Phillip J (ex-Captain) and David K Grimm LTC(ret),INF and I, followed in service and my sister was an Army wife to LTC(ret),INF Ed Brennan (Desert Storm).
COl Grimm's grandson continued his legacy in combat through 4 deployments with the Rangers in Afghanistan (ARCOM w/Valor) and Iraq. An additional 3 other grandchildren are also serving today - 2 Army and 1 AF.
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