Thomas Anthony Grud
First Lieutenant
VMCJ-1, MAG-11, 1ST MAW, III MAF
United States Marine Corps
Park Ridge, Illinois
February 22, 1942 to December 25, 1967
THOMAS A GRUD is on the Wall at Panel 32E, Line 58

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Thomas A Grud
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On December 25,1967 at Danang, Quang Nam Province, Repuplic of Vietnam, as a result of his aircraft going into an uncontrolled flight, Lieutenant Grud ejected at an altitude of 200 to 300 feet above the ground. He suffered fatal injuries when he contacted the ground, prior to the full deployment of his parachute.

One witness said it was early when the plane returned from a photo recon mission. He was waiting for the plane to land in order to change the film for development. He observed the Phantom coming in too fast, in his opinion. It touched down far down the runway with tailhook down. The afterburners lit up after a short time, indicating an attempt to abort the landing. However, it was too late as the hook snapped the cable forcing the plane to lift back into the air, roll leftward, straighten up, and crash onto the runway, tailhook still down. The observer was too far away to see the two men eject. Neither ejection could avoid injury to the pilot and Grud.

The pilot, Major Daniel C Escalera, received multiple injuries after his ejection and was transferred to a hospital in Japan for treatment. A check of logs for the month of December 1967 shows LT Grud flew back seat in missions every day during the month; sometimes he flew two flights a day, with Pilots Majors Quist, Foster, Fallon, Goller, Bown, Moreland, Escelera, Moran, Erickson, and Lieutenant Colonel Lewis. He was scheduled for two missions on the 25th.

He was survived by his mother and father, Agnes P. Grud and Walter J. Grud of Park Ridge Illinois. In the Chicago Tribune on November 16, 2001, the passing was announced for Agnes P. Grud, beloved wife of the late Walter J.; loving mother of John M. (Ursula), Suzanne M. (Barry) Hornecker and the late Lt. Thomas A. Grud, U.S.M.C.; grandmother of Stephen, Thomas and Kathryn; fond sister of Anthony Babits. Burial was in All Saints Cemetery. All Saints is where LT Thomas A. Grud is buried. We think his father passed away in 1983 at the age of 73.

Photograph of Thomas A Grud from Captain Dean Percival (then a lieutenant and backseater), USMC

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This RF-4 series photoreconnaissance Phantom jet belonging to VMCJ-1 at DaNang is similar to the one in which 1LT Grud flew as an Airborne Reconnaissance Officer. In this scene (July, 1968) the plane is being refueled while a photoavionics technician changes a film cassette in its nose camera bay.

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The Thomas Anthony Grud Memorial Award scholarship is given annually at Eastern Illinois University. Established by the family and friends of Thomas A. Grud, who was killed on Christmas Day in 1967. The award goes annually to a male student who has earned a portion of his college expenses and who is in need of additional financial assistance. Preference goes to those involved in a men's social fraternity.


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