U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Patrick Grout in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.
Grout knew early on he wanted to enlist in the military, so in 1972, on his 19th birthday, he enlisted with clear objectives: to serve in the Navy and to go to Vietnam.
“It’s just something I’ve felt since I was real little that I had to serve,” Grout said. “On my enlistment, it asked what you would like to do or be stationed, and I put Vietnam. I felt I had to do that.”
“I wanted to travel,” Grout said. “I’d be best to go into the Navy in order to see other countries.” Throughout his time in uniform, Grout visited Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Originally from Los Angeles, Grout was first stationed nearby in Alameda, California. While in bootcamp, he remembered a lot of marching and outlined how everything that was done was to simply “get you to follow orders.”
His jobs changed throughout his time on board the ship. He was originally placed in the main engine room as a machinist mate, then was assigned a new task of making water for the next three years. He recalled the conditions of working in the main engine room, “I remember washing my clothes and hanging my pants over a rail and when I got done, I could just stand them up. It was so hot it just ironed them in place.”
When he transferred to the auxiliaries, Grout quickly moved into a leadership role as he oversaw training other sailors and running qualifications for the preventative maintenance systems. “That was the first time I was in charge of people, and I had 19 of them,” he explained. “That helped me become a buffer.” Grout noted how much he appreciated the respect the military gave to rank and how “people no matter where you go, you’re showing the rank and respect because of your rank.”
Grout said the closest enemy encounter he had was as his ship was leaving the Gulf of Tonkin, when a nearby U.S. destroyer was severely damaged and three people had to be brought aboard his ship because it had a full hospital.
He recalled his feelings returning home and the lack of a warm welcome by his community, and the country, and how it still affects him today. “Disappointing, really disappointing. You expect a parade you know,” he said. “Nowadays when people say, ‘thank you for your service,’ that just – thank you, cause we didn’t get it back then.”
As a veteran, Grout understands the demands of those called to serve in uniform and says they are uniquely qualified to meet the demands of employers. “I’ve often thought about people who have a company and they want to hire people. Hire a vet because they do what it takes to get the job done. They know how to take orders,” Grout said.
Today, Grout calls Lavaca home.
“Patrick Grout humbly served our nation in uniform through his hard work and dedication. Every veteran deserves our thanks and appreciation. It is my hope that Patrick feels our gratitude for his sacrifice. I am pleased to collect his memories and share his story,” said Boozman.
Boozman will submit Grout’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.