March 13, 2019 – Hartford, WI – Vietnam War veteran Gerald Gramins Sr., 80, of Hartford is heading to Washington D.C. on April 6 as part of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.
Born March 7, 1939 in Milwaukee, Gramins attended Custer High School and Boys Tech, now known as Bradley Tech. He then enlisted in the Navy on Aug. 22, 1956 at age 17. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Gramins said.
Once enlisted, Gramins was sent to Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Station for Basic Training. After graduating from basic training, he was transferred to Norman, Oklahoma. “I went for what they called AMP School. With that, I held an aviation rating for the Navy.”
From there, Gramins served aboard the USS Shangri-la, “It’s a CVA 38 Aircraft Carrier and I was an Aviation Guided Missile Technician,” said Gramins.
In 1961, Gramins went into the Navy Reserves until 1974 when he retired from the Navy as a 3rd Class Petty Officer.
He then decided to join the Army. “I was a machinist, served with the 961st Combat Engineers in Milwaukee. After a couple of years, I joined the 84th Division Army, stationed in Milwaukee as well,” said Gramins.
In 1992, Gramins retired from the military at the age of 53, as an E8 First Sergeant.
He and his wife, Dolores, moved to Hartford a few years ago, “We’ve been married almost 43 years, met at a country western bar. Dolores is somewhat disabled and we moved here when a condo opened up by happenstance,” said Gramins.
Gramins and his wife were blessed with five sons, one of which is his guadian for the flight. ”I picked Gary to be my guardian because sometime ago I took his twin brother to Norfolk, Virginia and now I figured it was Gary’ turn to go,” said Gramins.
Gramins shared that while he looks forward to seeing the memorials, he is most excited about spending time with the other veterans on the flight.
“I’m looking forward to the comradeship. A lot of them are a lot more deserving than I am.”