Alex L. Grady

Photo source: Chambers-Heller Tree

NAME:
Alex Leon Grady
NICKNAME:
Al
SERVICE NUMBER:
554 01 23
HOME OF RECORD:
1106 North 24th Street, Boise, ID
raised in New Britain, CT
NEXT OF KIN:
Wife, Mrs. Colleen Chambers Grady
DATE OF BIRTH:
6/4/1918
SERVICE DATES:
6/17/1942 – 11/24/1944
DATE OF DEATH:
2/25/2008
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE RESULT
Roi-Namur 1/24 Corpsman PhM1c
Saipan 1/24 Corpsman PhM1c WIA
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Pharmacist’s Mate, First Class

His parents, Leon and Domicella Grablauskas, immigrated from Lithuania in 1905 and settled in New Britain, Connecticut. Alex was the third of their three children; while his siblings Lou and Nellie kept their Lithuanian surname, Alex changed his to the more American-sounding “Grady.”

Grady attended high school in New Britain, where he played football and developed into a promising student. He was accepted to the pharmacology program at the University of Idaho, Southern Branch (now Idaho State University) in Pocatello, and was living there in 1940 when he registered for the draft.

Around this time, Alex met an incoming freshman named Colleen Chambers. Miss Chambers, descended from Idaho pioneers, was a recent graduate from Boise High School and also interested in pharmacology. The two quickly developed a relationship.

Colleen Chambers’ senior portrait from Boise High School, 1940.

The year 1942 was a banner one for Alex Grady. He received his pharmacy degree, enlisted in the Navy on 17 June 1942 (a few days after his twenty-fourth birthday) and convinced Colleen to elope before he shipped out. After completing his basic training, he was chosen to serve as a corpsman, and after the additional rigors of Medical Field Service School at Camp Elliott, California was assigned to the 24th Marines as a Pharmacist’s Mate, Second Class on 26 April 1943. The following month, Grady joined 1/24th Marines as a battalion corpsman. He advanced quickly to Pharmacist’s Mate, First Class, and spent the summer, fall, and winter of 1943 preparing for combat in the Pacific.

“Doc” Grady performed well in his first engagement – the battle for Roi-Namur – on 1-2 February, 1944. After the islets were secured, he traveled to Camp Maui in the Territory of Hawaii to help train a handful of new corpsmen and keep his buddies in good health during rigorous field exercises. He made the combat landing on Saipan on 15 June 1944, but only lasted a few hours in the fight. Some disaster befell the battalion’s medical team, killing HA2c John C. Heidler and badly wounding three other corpsmen, including PhM1c Grady.

Grady was quickly evacuated to the USS Calvert – the same transport he had taken to Saipan – and brought back to Naval Hospital #10 in Hawaii for treatment of his wounds. He would never return to combat, or to his battalion. After more than five months in the hospital, Alex Grady was granted a medical discharge. He mustered out of the Navy on 24 November 1944, and headed back to Idaho to be with Colleen. When she earned her pharmacy degree in 1946, the two settled down in Boise to work at their shared profession. Alex called up a friend, Samuel Olnie “L. S.” Skaggs, and became a manager for Skaggs Drug Centers – a career that would last more than 40 years.

In the decades that followed, the Gradys lived and worked in Montana, Utah, Texas, Nevada, and Arizona – and raised two children of their own. They retired to Phoenix in 1973 and spent their golden years traveling the world before finally moving to San Angelo, Texas in 1997.

Colleen Grady passed away on 20 February 2002; Alex followed six years later, on 25 February 2008. They are buried side by side in Fairmount Cemetery, San Angelo, Texas.

 

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