Sunday, June 23, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Maurice “Swede” Grimaud

Prepared by: Jackie Grimaud (wife)

Colonel Maurice LaValle ‘Swede’ Grimaud was born October 27, 1933, in Fargo, North Dakota. At two years old, his family moved to Coronado, where Swede and his six siblings grew up. After graduating from Coronado High School in 1953, Swede joined the Aviation Cadet program at Harlingen Air Force Base in Texas in 1955. He commissioned with Navigator Wings and transferred to Larson Air Force Base in Moses Lake, Washington. A year later, he married his childhood sweetheart, Jackie Newton.

As Master Navigator, he flew over 9,000 hours, on six different planes, landing in 50 countries.

He flew many missions to Alaska, one in which he took newsman Lowell Thomas to the North Pole to scatter famed arctic explorer and author, Peter Freuchen’s ashes. Another time, his C-124 lost two engines and was forced to emergency land in Sandspit, British Columbia. He flew over 100 “North Pacific One Flights” – one-way from Alaska to Japan,
returning through Hawaii.

In 1960, Swede moved to McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma and logged over 5,000 flight hours in the C-124. He flew the Congolese Mercy Airlift, the largest airlift since the 1948-49 Berlin Blockade.

Then, Swede transferred to Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda, flying search and rescue for the Gemini space program. After Bermuda, Swede transferred back to McChord Air Force Base and worked toward his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at night school while flying the line in C-141’s.

Then Vietnam. Stationed at Phu Kat and Danang, Swede flew over 700 combat hours of recon surveillance. Once, he lost an engine in his EC-47, landed at an army fort, and that night, the Viet Cong launched mortars and destroyed his plane. After Vietnam, Swede returned to Travis Air Force Base, became Director of Combat Plans and Exercises for the 22nd Air Force and conducted the largest continental US airlift exercise of 155 missions – all on time!

Swede retired from the military in 1980 and began working for Wang Laboratories. He obtained his Real Estate and Appraisal Licenses and in 1990, moved with Jackie back to Coronado and opened Grimaud Appraisal Services. Swede officially retired again in 2008.

He enjoys spending time with his three children, their spouses and four grandchildren.

The Avenue of Heroes Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 230 hometown heroes to date. On May 20, 2023, another 15 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011, the program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly throughout the city and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Avenue of Heroes program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Bella Villarin
Bella Villarin
Bella is a proud military brat who has been a resident of Coronado since 2015. She was born in Japan, and after a short stay in Virginia, traveled extensively throughout Asia while living in Singapore and picking up another language. A senior at Coronado High School, Bella can be found at the driving range or golf course when not in school, studying, writing, playing the guitar, or spending time with her family. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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