Elder Profile: The Incomparable Clint Granger
The current slogan used by the United States Army for recruiting purposes states the organization is “Army Strong.” At age 85, retired Army Colonel Clint E. Granger, Jr. could well serve as poster boy for that ad campaign.
Colonel Granger’s military bearing remains striking after a 30-year career that almost defies description. His posture remains ram-rod straight, his eyes bright, and his brilliant mind as sharp as the crease in his dress uniform’s pants.“
Well, I have to walk with a cane now, but I still get out there every day and complete my rounds,” he stated with a wide smile. “I can attribute that cane to a parachute jump that didn’t go as planned.”
Granger explains that it was supposed to be a routine parachute jump from a helicopter that was hovering at 1,200 feet above the ground. The jump proved far from routine.
“The rip cord opened fine, but my 28 parachute lines tangled and I tumbled end over end and hit the ground in just 16 seconds!” he explained. “I fractured my pelvis in several places and was hospitalized. I was 34-years old at the time and the Army wanted to assign me to a desk job, and of course, being me, I gave an emphatic “no” to that suggestion and returned to being a field commander after I recovered. I limped a bit but escaped the office job.”
That wasn’t the first time Colonel Granger defied the military establishment. He enrolled at the U.S. West Point Military Academy despite the fact that he came up just shy of the minimum height requirement.
“In order to get into West Point you had to be at least 5-foot-6, and I was measured at 5-foot-5-and-½. The then Surgeon General of the United States had stated, “Don’t worry he’ll grow!” I didn’t. I graduated in 1951 and was the shortest man in my class.”
Overcoming those obstacles, Colonel Granger went on to post a sterling military career that concluded by serving as the Director of the Planning Staff for the National Security Council at the White House. He was also the Deputy Assistant to the President from 1974-1976 and served as a deputy for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Prior to that duty Colonel Granger served as Deputy Director for International Affairs, ODCSOPS, Department of the Army from 1973-1974. His duties included heading a State-Defense Department Task Force to Jordan. However, administrative assignments were not exactly the Colonel’s cup of tea. It was combat duties that had originally been his calling.
“I was 16 years old during World War II, and like most young men at that time, I wanted to go off and fight for my country. My fondest dream was to fly a B-17 bomber.”
Colonel Granger’s list of military assignments makes him a true living legend. His fearless dedication and fierce burning desire to serve his country has earned him so many distinguished awards and decorations that it would take a footlocker to store them all. A partial list includes two Silver Stars, four Legion of Merit Awards, two Meritorious Service Metals, a Bronze Star with three “V” awards, 10 Air Metal Awards, the Army Commendation Metal, a Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Palm.
Following his unbelievable military career, Colonel Granger continued to accumulate awards, this time as an established writer and author. His published works include the novels Kurdistan, Cathay, High Asia, Shalom-Peace, Crucible in Asia, Long Forgotten, and Mideast Madness. He also penned The Wild Blue, which he describes is suited for young adults and those who think young. His fascinating look at the future is contained in The Second Thirty Years War, and his autobiographical masterpiece is Falcon 6.
How does a grizzled warrior with the stature of Colonel Granger turn renowned author?
“I was a 25-year-old Lieutenant at the time and didn’t like the fact the U.S. Army did not utilize armored units with infantry units,” Granger noted. “It just did not make sense to me at all. Being stubborn like I am, I had something to say and wanted it noticed, so I started writing articles with my theory stated.”
After the Korean War he had requested an assignment to an Armored Infantry unit. At that time, Mechanized Infantry did not exist in the U.S. Army, but Granger foresaw that wars would be won with speed and slashing energy. Following many papers on the subject, he finally convinced Washington that such an assignment would be useful, as demonstrated during World War II by Patton and Rommel. But it was not yet a part of U.S. accepted doctrine. That is, until a young upstart Lieutenant published his theory.
Granger ultimately published countless military articles and books in such publications as the Military Review, The National Guardsman and the Canadian Military Journal, gaining a reputation as a true expert on military tactics and strategy. His conversion to writing novels was a natural progression and writing remains his passion.
“Oh, it always seems like I am sitting down to start another book,” he chuckled. “After all, I have to stay busy!”
Colonel Granger has lived all over the world, but when it came to retirement time he chose the Upper Valley. He now resides at the Quail Hollow Senior Living Community in West Lebanon. Considering his world-wide exposure to many exotic environments, why West Lebanon, New Hampshire?
“I chose this area because of the close proximity to the veterans hospital in White River, Jct., Vermont. I have seen a lot of veterans hospitals in my career, and this one is the best one in my view. The quality of people here and the care you receive is simply outstanding. These people really care. Of course, the VA hospital’s affiliation with Dartmouth-Hitchcock is an added bonus with all the resources they offer as well.”
At age 85, the Colonel looks back on his years in active combat and realizes all too well the agony of war and the toll it takes on the human body and the human soul.
“I have my share of wounds and scars. I’ve led many, many troops in battle, and I have to think about those who did not return. But for those that made it through, VA care is critical and meaningful.”
These days, the horror of war seems distant and Colonel Granger has adapted to life in retirement and enjoys his surroundings and friends at Quail Hollow.
“When I decided on living in this area, I first moved to Rutland, Vermont, but after visiting Quail Hollow I decided this was the place. It’s beautiful here, and I love this area.”
Colonel Granger is not only one of this country’s leading military heroes and now a world-famous author, but a devoted family man as well. He is blessed with five children – four daughters and one lone son – and, at last count, eleven grandchildren.
One thing you come to comprehend after spending time with Colonel Granger is that he remains an innovative thinker and never backs off from a challenge. To prove it, he has taken the first step in yet another life adventure.
Colonel Granger and fellow Quail Hollow resident Lynn Duffy have announced their plans to be married. A master negotiator for his entire 30-year military career, Colonel Granger retains that talent to this day.
“We have announced our engagement,” he stated with a sly smile. “All that remains is to negotiate the actual wedding date.”
How does one approach such a large step at this point in life? For Colonel Granger it was a simple and very touching decision to make.
“I have been looking all my life for the right lady, and I have finally found her,” he explained.
For Lynn, a former New Jersey resident, it was also a case of finding a soul mate with whom to complete life’s journey.
“It is almost a spiritual experience for me,” Duffy said. “It’s simply a beautiful and wonderful feeling.”
Colonel Granger nodded in agreement.
“Yes, she has added spirituality to my life. I was raised believing in God and religion was important to me. During my military career and experiences, I lost some of that, but Lynn has restored spirituality to my life.”
If you are in the vicinity of Quail Hollow in the coming days and see a distinguished-looking gentleman wearing a black Stenson-style wide-brimmed hat walking along with a fancy cane, give him a salute. He has earned it.