FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan --
Second Lieutenant Chad Grasmuck, 33, from Angels Camp, Calif., has been writing for most of his life, but while attending college through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program he says it helped him find relief and satisfaction.
Grasmuck, supply officer with Regimental Combat Team 6, found that writing poetry and stories greatly helped him deal with the stresses he has faced during his deployments.
He has written a book of 47 poems and is working to have his work published. He is also writing a science fiction novel based loosely on his experiences and stories from people he has met in the Marines.
“I have been writing poetry since I was a kid,” Grasmuck said. “I was taking a class in college about poetry where my professor, who was also my mentor, really helped me get better at writing my poetry. Because of my professor, during my second year of college my writing became more structured. When my writing became more structured, things (in my writing) came out that I was unaware of, and it sometimes surprised me.”
According to Grasmuck, his poetry book titled “by the river gods’ edge”, he followed Dante’s trip through hell, purgatory and heaven. He relates his experiences in Iraq as an infantryman, his time back in the United States and his marriage as a metaphor for that trip.
“I wanted to show a growth of the protagonist, and that through love, faith and religion you can overcome almost anything,” said Grasmuck, who is a devoted Catholic. “I’m very faith based in my writing. Faith carried me through war and after at home. Greek mythology and the Bible play a big role in my writing.
“Each poem is independent,” he continued. “Sometimes he is married, sometimes he’s not, but the character is almost always a sergeant.”
Grasmuck says he usually keeps the protagonist as a sergeant because it’s the favorite rank that he’s held in his 12 years in the Marine Corps.
“As far as being a Marine, that’s where I feel I achieved my manhood,” he added. Grasmuck is so proud of earning the rank of sergeant that the name under which he writes his works is S.G.T. Grasmuck. “All my writing is defined by my experiences as a sergeant. The name I use literally means sergeant. I spell it that way so that people think it has more meaning, but at the end of the day, it’s just a throwback to the best rank in the Marine Corps.”
His latest project, a science fiction novel titled “I, Grunt”, is also about combat and war. In the book, the character and his group of fighters wake up years after a war to find that the people they wanted to defend have died. While on a journey to locate and learn more about their foe, they discover who their true enemies are and must deal with the uncertainties of an adversary who is not unlike themselves.
Although Grasmuck says he never considered himself a science fiction writer, he considered the idea after hearing a eulogy at a funeral for his priest’s mother.
“The priest painted a picture of a very real person,” he said. “He didn’t say the usual ‘She was a saint, she was an angel’ that you would expect at a funeral. He told all kinds of stories about his mother that described exactly who she was.”
After hearing that, Grasmuck saw a way he could talk about things without bashing anyone for their drawbacks or limitations.
“I wanted to talk about certain things but didn’t want to blast anyone or belittle anyone,” Grasmuck said. “Someone may be a great person, but not a good tactical leader. It’s not really their fault. So I thought science fiction would be a good way to paint a good picture.”
Just before leaving on his current deployment, Grasmuck entered his book of poetry into a contest that would help him publish it. He was recently informed that he did not win the contest but still remains hopeful and says he will try to look for other contests to enter his books into.
Grasmuck has shared his work with some of the Marines he has met over the course of his career.
“I think I have read all of (his poems), or at least the ones he’s cared to share or made public,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy Laux, 33, adjutant, 2nd battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, from New Orleans.
Laux, who met Grasmuck during their time in MECEP, talks about his two favorite poems.
“One is called ‘Monsters’ and the other is called ‘Armistice’,” Laux said. “They’re my favorites for a few reasons. They're written as well as any poem or story from any famous poet or author you'll find in a library or on a shelf in your favorite bookstore. They're colorful; they paint a very vivid picture in your mind of a father's interaction with his children, and you don't quite know where the poem is going to lead until the very end. You don't want it to end, but the ending is perfect. And I enjoy these mostly because I can relate. I've got children, and I've personally experienced the actions and feelings he describes.”