Veterans Voices

Veterans Voices: Calvin Grinnell, a Three Affiliated Tribes Warrior

Local News

“We have a long history of the warrior tradition and that’s what motivated me to join the service.”

It’s a tradition that spans centuries.

Warriors of the Three Affiliated Tribes have been serving our county, fighting in wars from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to the War in Afghanistan.

Calvin Grinnell is one of those warriors.

Calvin Grinnell, US Marine Corps recruit training; San Diego

He voluntarily enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served stateside from 1974, at the tail end of the Vietnam war, until 1979 when he was honorably discharged.

“I was proud to serve and be part of what I felt was a duty or obligation as a member of MHA nation and as a man,” expressed Grinnell.

It was important to Grinnell to continue the warrior tradition of his people.

“Young men encouraged to serve the country and that is how I grew up. Saw uncles and father all serve in the military at some point. So very strong among our people,” Grinnell said.

Calvin Grinnell, USMC 1976; Camp Pendleton

Many of Grinnell’s family members have served throughout the generations.

His father, Ben Grinnell, was in the United States Army and fought in World War II.

His uncle, Robert Young Bird, Sr., was in the U.S. Army Airborne and served three tours in Vietnam.

While Grinnell did not serve in the war, he understands the sacrifice his brothers and sisters made while serving their country.

“Many made the ultimate sacrifice and I feel it’s my duty to speak on their behalf,” explained Grinnell.

“And although I didn’t serve in wartime, I want to give voice to those who are not here and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of devotion to this country.”

Calvin Grinnell, 1987

Today, Grinnell is a Historian, which allows him to continue to share the history of his people, and give a voice to those who are no longer with us.

“It’s important because these men gave a portion of their lives to this country, and we as Indian people, this is our country no matter what,” said Grinnell.

While serving in the U.S. Marine Corp., Grinnell’s military occupational specialty was a telephone switchboard repairman.

He was also trained in computer science, which helps him continue to serve his people and reach the younger generation to share the importance of tradition.

“I use facebook, I have a page and as a historian I put a lot of features about my service in the military but also our history and culture … how it’s important to become a contributing member of society, to become honorable, to do your job and contribute to your tribe and to your country,” Grinnell explained.

A tradition that Calvin Grinnell will continue to teach for years to come.

For nearly twenty years now, Grinnell has continued to share the many stories of his people as the Historian for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the MHA Nation. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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