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.