Lt.-Col. Perry Grandy sits on a hill above Kabul in November 2009. — Submitted photo
When Lt.-Col. Perry Grandy participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies in St. John’s Friday, he was likely thinking about the ramp ceremonies he attended in Afghanistan in the past six months.
Those ceremonies paid tribute to soldiers as young as 19.
“When you’re on a ramp and you’re watching the bodies being loaded aboard a plane in front of you, Nov. 11th really hits you hard. … It all comes back to you then,” he said.
“And then it gets put away.”
Grandy, 51, is deputy commander of the 37 Canadian Brigade Group.
He joined the reserves in 1977 at the age of 17.
During the early 1990s, he served as a rifle company commander with the Second Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, and led troops on a six-month peacekeeping operation to Cyprus.
In 2009, he was deployed to Afghanistan and assigned to the U.S. Forces Combined Security Transition Command in Kabul where he helped build the Afghan army and police.
The U.S. government awarded Grandy the Meritorious Service Medal as a result of his work in Kabul.
Grandy returned to Afghanistan in April and was assigned to Regional Command South in Kandahar. He worked with the Afghan National Security Force Development where he helped assess the Afghan army and police working in Kandahar.
He refers to the work carried out during his six-month deployment as “counter-insurgency by the book.”
“We had over 20,000 troops deployed in our division from a number of brigades. … We were protecting the population, building the Afghan army and assisting with the establishment of government and economic capabilities.”
Grandy and his team worked from early morning until late night, seven days a week, using sophisticated software to track the professional development of the leaders as well as the effectiveness of the army’s literacy and communication programs.
In order to do that, he said, it was also important to monitor combat operations.
The information obtained was shared with numerous world leaders, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Grandy was also involved in the operational planning for the transfer of security from NATO to the Afghan security forces, which is scheduled to occur in 2014.
Grandy’s military career also includes dispatching troops to Quebec following the ice storm in 1988, advising the military about what services it could provide in responding to 9-11 and co-ordinating the deployment of over 1,000 reservists to help following hurricane Igor.
As a civilian, he works as an investigator with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) where he completed a five-year assignment with the RCMP’s proceeds of crime unit.
He returned from Afghanistan a month ago.
His wife, Debbie Carroll, recently retired from a 35-year nursing career. They have one son, Stephen Carroll.
The hardest part for any soldier heading overseas is leaving family behind, he said.
“I would go indefinitely if it wasn’t for the impact it has on the home front.”
Soldiers must always be prepared for the unexpected, he said.
“You stay calm, follow your training and you do everything that you’ve been trained to do. Because if something ever happened to me and my wife found out that I didn’t do something that I was supposed to have done. … I didn’t want that scenario.”
Grandy is a former commander of the 1st Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
The current commander, Lt.-Col. Alex Brennan, describes him as one of the hardest working leaders he has ever known.
“I have soldiered with him on a deployment. … He is a great role model who tears down obstacles so that others can advance. He sets the standard for staff work. He has an insatiable appetite for analyzing, preparing and executing plans,” Brennan said.
Brennan said Grandy is driven by the understanding that well-prepared plans reduce the chances for casualties.
“Canada is fortunate to have him and I am proud to count him as a friend. He is an asset to his employer and to our province.”