Veteran Salute – Scott Grasher
Scott was born in Kansas City and raised in Oak Grove. In 1990 at the age of 20, Scott hoped to join the Air Force, but was fascinated by the Marine uniform and the opportunity to become a police officer after his four years in the military. So he joined the Marines to become a military police officer.
The first hard lesson Scott learned was not to call his boot camp instructor a “dude” when he found himself surrounded by several officers yelling in his face that they were not “dudes.” He completed his training with that lesson and went onto combat school for rifleman/infantry training. All Marines are trained for infantry, and this took him to Iraq and Kuwait with the combat MP unit guarding POWs and escorting supply convoys. He then crossed over to Saudi Arabia to guard ships and ports.
Scott remembers the desert in Iraq being cold at night, about 30 degrees, and warm in the day. It is also very dirty and once rained for two weeks soaking and flooding everything in sight making the desert look like a lake. Even the humvee he slept in was not waterproof and Scott and his buddies got soaked. During this time, he did not have a warm shower for two months, and ate MREs, camel meat, and rice.
The air campaign began before the ground campaign and Scott provided security to supply convoys and troops during both times. During the 100-hour war he found the Iraqi’s anxious to surrender so they wouldn’t have to fight. The oil rigs were bombed and burning causing darkness for two days; the troops didn’t know if it was day or night except for the time on their watches. The burning also caused all the uniforms to reek of oil and Scott says his still do 15 years later.
His travels with guard duty took him to Saudi Arabia, England, Norway, and Germany. Since there was no Internet at that time, Scott was able to phone home about twice a month and once asked his family why he was not receiving any letters. He later found out that another soldier with a name close to his was getting his mail and Scott was receiving his. Another lesson Scott learned was when his buddy tried to burn all the flies in their tent and ended up burning the tent down giving them more nights sleeping in the humvee.
A happy ending to the desert was when Scott found someone who was from the Kansas City area. After talking, they discovered that he was from Pleasant Hill and played basketball against Scott’s Oak Grove team. This led the two to a friendship that still exists and, according to Scott, will last forever.
When Scott’s tour of duty was nearing an end, he was sent to Germany on a plane that malfunctioned causing them to spend 12 hours on the ground. All the troops on board who were in the Army, Air Force, and Navy were allowed to exit the plane, but not the Marines. The townspeople thought the Marines would get drunk and tear up the town so they were ordered to stay on board until the plane was repaired.
Scott came back to Oak Grove to discover he didn’t fit into the college life anymore and was hired by the Independence Police Department as an officer, fulfilling his life’s ambition. Scott credits his training and experience in the Marines for preparing him for police duties and says his uniform is always clean and his boots always shined, again crediting the Marine training. His closing remarks were that he learned to take care of himself and his fellow officers (team). And he says, “There is no place like home.”
Scott’s military history can be viewed in the Veterans’ Hall in the Independence Parks and Recreation Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple.
– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence, 816-325-7860.