Saturday, February 28, 2009

Turning 60 – The Adventure of Life Continues

"A man is not old as long as he is seeking something." Jean Rostand

Sixty years ago today, I entered the world at twelve o’clock noon – just in time for lunch. I was raised in Central Florida by my parents, John and Claire Grist, who provided my sister Jeannie and me with a wonderful life. For my contemporaries who remember the old television show “Father Knows Best”, that was my life. Businessman father, homemaker mother, middle class neighborhood, old American values.

Like most people my age, I’ve experienced both success and failure over these many years. I’ve made some good decisions, but I’ve also made really bad ones. Such is the game of life. Debbie and I have spent thirty-five years together, we’ve raised four kids through good times and bad, and we now enjoy our four beautiful grandchildren. We haven’t done everything right, but we worked hard together and we did the very best we could.

I’m a lucky man and I know it. I’ve had the opportunity to serve my country in uniform during part of five decades. Even with the breaks in service, the active Army, the Florida Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve each had a piece of me in the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, or now in the first decade of the 21st century. I am truly blessed to have served with some of America’s greatest citizens, warriors in each of those decades who stepped forward to fight for their country. I've served with them at war in both Vietnam and Iraq, and many of my comrades gave their lives defending the cause of liberty.

My Army retirement is effective today. Although I spent most of my military service as a sergeant (and I am damn proud of it), I am retiring as a first lieutenant, my old Vietnam platoon leader’s rank. I may very well take my wife to the officer’s club every now and then, but drinking a beer with my NCO buddies will always be my first priority. I was the last Vietnam veteran in my Army Reserve unit.

I am still fortunate enough to be able to work as a police officer, although it appears that I am now the oldest cop at the police department. That’s okay; when I was an Army lieutenant, there were those who said I was too young to be an infantry officer. As an old Army sergeant and an old police officer, there are some who may think I’m too old for those jobs. I didn’t listen in 1969 and I won’t listen today. When it came time to retire from the Army, I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m also the best one to decide when I will hang up the holster, the handcuffs and the badge. And I will be the last Vietnam veteran at my police department.

Throughout my life, I have sought one challenge after another. It is the quest to live life to the fullest that makes life worth living. As I enter my final years as a police officer, I will only look ahead for the next adventure. I will never give up, I will never quit, and I will always remember that Rangers lead the way.

Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read the ramblings of an average soldier, a common man, and an old street cop.

The journey continues, so stick around. Let’s see what the future holds for me and for all of us…..

Charles M. Grist


  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY from Cobra 4 ( yeah Doc Hollywood ! Ha Ha !

    Doc J

  2. Chuck,

    Congratulations on your birthday and retirement. It was great serving with you over the last 3 years.


  3. Thanks, guys, for the kind words. I was honored to serve with both of you.

    John R., you were one of the most professional sergeants I ever worked with. Now you will be a great law enforcement pro in your next life.

    John C. (Doc - Cobra 4), serving with you and the rest of the C.O.B.R.A. Team was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Thanks to all of you for keeping me alive..

  4. Two of the toughest jobs for anyone to master. Congrats and happy birthday!