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Thread: Happy Trails to a Hero
08-04-07, 03:49 AM #1
Happy Trails to a Hero
This is the transpript to the story - check the link for the video. A true hero, and an amazing man. He will be missed.
Connie Grayson's Explosive Career Comes To An End
08-03-07 at 6:05PM
A longtime veteran of the San Diego Sheriff's Department bomb squad may actually get a peaceful night of sleep tonight. Today was Sgt. Conrad Grayson's last day on the job.
Grayson says it wasn't his first choice.
"I said I really want to go to homicide and he said there's no opening in homicide how about you come with us a couple years, then go to homicide and I said that sounds cool, so I got duped into coming to the bomb squad," he said.
That was 30 years ago, but Sgt. Grayson never left. And through the years, he's become a legend.
"He's the Mr. Wizard when it comes to bomb and arson and the knowledge he has," a El Cajon Police Department spokesperson Monica Zech said.
So knowledgeable, he can usually tell how dangerous an explosive is just by looking at it.
"He'd just have a good look, if he needed to suit out, pick it up with two fingers, roll it in a blanket and take it away," a coworker said.
The explosive he's collected are displayed in a museum for the benefit of others who come after him. Education is what Sgt. Grayson is all about.
"He's got all the pictures, shows us what to look out for, he's saved countless lives," Zech said. "He's so humble.. Teaches FBI, around the world, yet he's very humble."
The FBI has called on his expertise countless times.
"My greatest moment I'll cherish until I die was Oklahoma City," he said. "I was there 8 days, working with FBI, search team, bodies, searched evidence of truck."
One of his darkest moments was December 5, 1987.
"That was one of the worst days we had because we had two fatalities and two officers shot," Grayson said.
Deputy Lonnie Brewer was killed by suspect Robert Taschner during a 13-hour siege in Escondido. Grayson was called in to blow a hole in the suspect's apartment wall, but Taschner suddenly stormed out with an AK-47, firing directly at Grayson.
"I just started going down, he opened up point blank at me and hit all around me, a guardian angel was with me," he said.
Taschner was killed, and Grayson doesn't know why he wasn't, too.
"So I don't know why I'm still alive, bad situation getting shot at point blank like that," he said.
Grayson has been injured on the job, losing the hearing in his left ear and losing a finger while setting up to destroy a bomb. Not too banged up, he says, after 30 years.
Now the time has come for his retirement.
"I'll miss being with the people in law enforcement, it's a family," he said. "This has been a real big chunk of my life.. .39 years, that's a long time."
"He's always a great friend, give you a hug, we're really going to miss that,"Zech said.
At the bomb range where the military trains, we asked him about his legacy.
"If this bomb squad in San Diego can help nationwide in the training of worldwide, very brave young men and women who come through, this is my legacy right here," he said.
Sgt. Grayson says he'll now be able to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren, but that may be short-lived. With his Marine, SWAT and bomb squad training, he now hopes to get a job with the Department of Homeland Security.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
08-04-07, 10:37 AM #2
Sounds like they are loosing a very valuable resourse...
I hope he enjoys his time off, however short lived it may be....
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell
08-04-07, 11:05 AM #3
My hat is off to him. May he have success and enjoyment in his life no matter what course he chooses.
Thank you for the great service you have provided in your career my Brother."An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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08-05-07, 03:02 PM #4
Sgt. Conrad Grayson retires after 29 years on sheriff's bomb squad
By Pauline Repard
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 5, 2007
He's been the tough-looking guy in camouflage on your local TV news, explaining with rapid-fire delivery how the pipe bomb his team just disarmed could have torn off someone's arm.
Sgt. Conrad Grayson, with 29 years on the San Diego County Sheriff's Department arson-explosives unit, is the most senior nonmilitary bomb technician in the country. And by most accounts, one of the most well-respected.
Grayson, 66, closed out his 39-year law enforcement career Friday, saying it's time to let younger men take over.
“I don't want to get to the point where the guys say, 'Work around the old sarge,' ” Grayson said. “I'm kind of a freak case. Very few people go that long.”
The FBI's most senior bomb technician, Special Agent Kevin Miles of the Los Angeles office, said Grayson's retirement “will leave a big hole in the experience level in San Diego County and Southern California.”
At a standing-room-only retirement party Wednesday night, Sheriff Bill Kolender called Grayson “an icon in law enforcement” and presented him the department's Distinguished Service Medal.
Grayson taught bomb recognition and use of explosives to thousands of law officers, firefighters and military personnel. He gave safety talks at school assemblies, banks, hospitals and businesses.
He worked the horrific scenes of the PSA jetliner crash in North Park, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and San Diego County's Cedar and Paradise wildfires.
Senior Special Agent Rick Verducci said that when he joined the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 18 years ago, “Coni was the guy to go to. He's a legend.”
Before clearing out his cramped sheriff's Emergency Services Division office at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Grayson sat for an interview amid memorabilia, family photos and a prominent sign that read, “No Sniveling.”
He said he ends his career on a high, with last month's dedication of a $1.5 million renovation at the sheriff's 5-acre bomb disposal and training range in Rancho San Diego. Offices, classrooms, restrooms, lighting and a perimeter fence were installed, along with a museum to display thousands of grenades, shells, detonators and other devices Grayson collected.
The new bomb squad leader, Sgt. Everard Dayrit, said his 13 years as a SWAT supervisor should prepare him for his new assignment.
“It's an honor to replace him,” Dayrit said of Grayson. “His knowledge and expertise is something I'll strive for.”
Grayson, the youngest of three brothers, recalls a tough East Los Angeles childhood when “if anyone called me 'Coni,' I'd pound their face.” (Now he views the widely used nickname as an endearment.)
Grayson's oldest brother, Abe, made a career in supermarket management. Brother Gilbert, 68, spent 20 years in the Navy, then in 1980 followed Conrad into the Sheriff's Department. He plans to retire in September.
Peers call Conrad Grayson dedicated, generous, and always willing to help and to share his vast knowledge of explosive devices, terrorism and law. He taught the subjects to nearly every police officer and firefighter in the county. They knew they could call him at 2 a.m. with questions. Reporters knew he was always good for a quote.
“I go into total teaching mode,” Grayson said. “The public doesn't know what a dry-ice bomb is? Let's use it to tell them what to look out for. If you don't, another person picks up something and now another person is hurt.
“My mother was a teacher. Maybe I got it from her.”
What his colleagues might not know is that he actually wanted to work homicide, not bomb-arson. And that he tried for 13 years for a promotion to lieutenant. And that he co-founded the American Association of Zoo Keepers.
The ex-Marine signed on at the San Diego Zoo in 1967. He and six co-workers, wanting training in handling animals, brought in lecturers such as gorilla expert Jane Goodall and formed the now-international association.
Grayson switched careers in 1968, graduating from the San Diego Police Department academy and working for the University of California Police and San Diego police until joining the Sheriff's Department in 1972.
When Sgt. John Reeve asked him to apply for the bomb squad, Grayson told him he'd rather work homicide.
“He said, 'Do it for a couple of years, and transfer,' ” said Grayson, who joined the three-deputy unit in 1977. “I got so doggone busy, I forgot all about homicide.”
There was virtually no safety equipment for bomb technicians in the early days. Grayson routinely carried dynamite and fireworks in the trunk of his county-issued car to the bomb disposal range.
“He fought for years to better the unit and the equipment,” recalled Bill Kilpatrick, who worked on Grayson's bomb squad for eight years before retiring in 2005.
“We're his boys,” said Detective John Williamson, a three-year bomb squad member. “He would do anything for us.”
With donations, grants and budget requests, Grayson acquired a bomb disposal carrier, bomb safety suits and remote-controlled robots that can disarm an explosive with a blast of water. He expanded the squad to six detectives who serve the entire unincorporated county area and 17 cities, apart from San Diego, which has its own bomb-arson team.
Detective Bill Jache, a bomb squad member for nearly 11 years, praised Grayson's low-key leadership style and his willingness to handle small chores that free his investigators to work on cases.
Grayson has handled the big ones, too. He was overwhelmed by the carnage when 144 people died when a jetliner and a small plane collided over North Park in September 1978. “I couldn't sleep at night – every time I closed my eyes, I saw dead bodies.”
Equally searing was the wreckage at Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April 1995. When the FBI asked him to help at the scene of America's biggest bombing, Grayson caught a plane the next day. After eight days of pulling out bodies, the image that hit him hardest was the little, bloody handprints on the crumbled wall of a day care center, where children had groped their way to safety.
And again in 2003, Grayson and his team recovered bodies, 17 in all including Novato firefighter Steve Rucker, from the Cedar and Paradise fires that devastated the county.
But the blast heard 'round the world for Grayson's team was the day it blasted four kittens.
“That really kicked our butts,” Grayson said, recalling the hate mail and worldwide ridicule.
In 1986, a sealed box was left outside a Ramona bank. The bomb team got a blurry X-ray image of a live creature inside. The team had recently destroyed a similar box containing a rattlesnake, so it blasted this box with a water cannon. Three kittens were killed. The survivor, which Grayson dubbed Lucky, was adopted by a detective.
Grayson's retirement doesn't mean he plans to relax. He has applied for a Transportation Security Administration job at Lindbergh Field, and if that falls through, he's thinking of joining the sheriff's volunteer search-and-rescue team.
Grayson's wife, Teresa Gersch, retired as a sergeant in 2003 after 22 years as a county deputy marshal and three years with the Sheriff's Department.
“I knew going into this marriage that this department was No. 1,” Gersch said. “I'm looking forward to moving up in position.”
She said she bought a motor home in February, and Grayson hasn't yet ridden in it. He also refused to use the fire-engine-red pickup she bought him in June until he had to turn in his county car.
“I think I've been real patient,” Gersch said. “He truly belonged to the people of San Diego.”
PROFILE: SGT. CONRAD GRAYSON
1958-64: Marine Corps and Marine Reserve, serving in Vietnam and the Far East
1967-68: San Diego Zoo; co-founds American Association of Zoo Keepers
1968-69: San Diego police academy, reserve officer
1969-72: University of California Police Department
May-August 1972: San Diego Police Department
1972-2007: San Diego County Sheriff's DepartmentMolly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
08-05-07, 03:29 PM #5
"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly. - Lovelace
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08-05-07, 08:25 PM #6
He sounds like a great man and they only come about once in a lifetime may his retirement be peacefull and happy a true hero.Public conscience message board
post on a board with a heart.
08-05-07, 08:26 PM #7http://www.allpoetry.com/Grunts%20Girl
We dallied under
Vine maples and sapling alders
Searched for lady slippers
Found blackberry riots and
An old skid road
Brought ghost ferns and
Hollows filled with
While waves wrapped
Intricate lacings of weeds
'Round mule spinners
His cyanotic eyes
Were hard enough to make
The sun turn tail and
Tender enough to attract me
To his world of illusion
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