About Orders to Nowhere and my Bio

This is about the journey of a Marine’s transition from a career spanning almost three decades of service back to the civilian world he came from.

The reason I am writing it is because I am that guy, and I am in the midst of the surprisingly lengthy process of transitioning from a great career in uniform to a new life back in the outside world.  Unfortunately it isn’t proving to be as easy as I had envisioned, and as a result I am going through a considerable amount of adventure learning to figure it all out.  This blog is a travelog of sorts to share the metamorphosis and hopefully help others who are now transitioning or do so in the future.

I try to post once or twice a week, so happy reading and wish me luck!

For anyone interested in my military career bio, here it is:

LtCol Grice enlisted in the Marine Corps reserve in 1984.  Upon graduating from MCRD San Diego, he served in Battery P, 5/14 in Aurora, Colorado as a Field Artillery Fire Controlman and Artillery Operations Chief, ultimately obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He was with the battery until he graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1992.

Upon commissioning, he reported to The Basic School, where he graduated with honors, was the recipient of the Class Leadership Award and was meritoriously augmented into the Regular Marine Corps.  He then reported to 3d Battalion, 11th Marines in 29 Palms, California.  He served as a forward observer and assistant fire direction officer before his assignment to Fort Sill as a student in the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course.  Upon graduation with honors, he returned to 3/11, where he served as a Fire Direction Officer, platoon commander, battery executive officer, and battalion Maintenance Management officer.

(Then) captain Grice reported to Fort Sill as a Gunnery Instructor in 1996.  He instructed both the Officer Basic and Advance courses, and after this assignment he was posted to Quantico to attend Amphibious Warfare School.  Upon graduation with honors he served as a tactics instructor at Officer Candidate School.

After finishing his stint as an instructor at OCS (then) captain Grice reported to 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, where he served as the battalion logistics officer and commanding officer of Battery E.  As a battery commander he deployed with BLT 2/5 to Okinawa and the 31st MEU (SOC), where he participated in humanitarian assistance operations in East Timor and was the recipient of the Leftwich Trophy.  Upon his return from deployment, he reported to the 11th Marine Regiment’s operations section as the assistant regimental operations officer.

 In July 2002 (then) Major Grice reported to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego for duty as the Executive Officer of 3d Recruit Training Battalion and as the Director of Drill Instructor School.  He then reported back to Camp Pendleton, where he joined 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company as a Brigade Platoon Commander.  Upon completion of Tactical Air Control Party school he deployed with his platoon to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, in support of the 2d Marine Division as it conducted combat operations in Al Anbar province.  Five months after returning from Al Anbar, he and his platoon were again deployed to Ar Ramadi, this time in support of I MEF (FWD).  Upon completion his second combat deployment, he reported to 5th Battalion, 11th Marines as the executive officer.   During this tour he deployed to Qatar and Afghanistan with Special Operations Command, Central, and served in the Theater Special Operations Component Liaison Element in Kabul. 

 Upon his return from Afghanistan, LtCol Grice was assigned as the Expeditionary Fire Support Branch Chief at Expeditionary Warfare Training Group, Pacific aboard the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California.   On 1 July 2009 he assumed command of 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company located in Camp Pendleton, California.  During his tenure as the commanding officer, the Company deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in addition to reintroducing ANGLICO Supporting Arms Liaison Teams to the west coast Marine Expeditionary Units.

On 22 April 2011 he turned over command of 1st ANGLICO and was temporarily assigned to the 11th Marine Regiment, where he was responsible for establishing training procedures to Target Mensuration, Joint Fires Observers, and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.  He retired on January 1st, 2012 after over 27 years of service in the Marine Corps.

He has received numerous awards and decorations, which include the two Bronze Stars, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V, and the Combat Action Ribbon.  He is a member of the Artillery Ancient Order of Saint Barbara and the Cavalry Order of the Gold Spur. In addition, he is a recipient of the Leftwich Trophy.  He has also received numerous writing awards, including the Chase Essay, Hogaboom Leadership award and the Geiger Aviation writing awards.

Since retirement he has started his own leadership consulting company called The Decisive Leadership Group and has earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California’s Marshall Business School.

LtCol Grice is married to the former Cheryl Alaimo, PhD, of Norwich, New York.  They have two children and reside in Encinitas, California. 


30 responses to “About Orders to Nowhere and my Bio

  1. Hi Mike:

    First: Welcome to PTI. Greetings from the east coast.
    I enjoyed reading your article and expoits in the USMC.
    My name is Paul Dubrachek, and I work for PTI supporting MCOTEA in Quantico. We have a couple of things in common. I served as the MOI at Colorado 1978-81, and as an artillery officer, mostly with10th Marines. I retired in 1990 and experienced an interesting transition. After the MC, I worked in private industry for 15 years before coming back to my first love, the USMC. I am on Linked in if you would like to make the connection. E-mial address below is my work e-mail.


  2. Hey sir!! It is Sgt. Anderson formerly of 1st ANGLICO, 2nd Bde Plt, SALT D, FCT 7,
    Ran across your blog and just wanted say congratulations on your return to civilian life and Semper Fi! Hope you are settling in well, Take Care!

    • Things have been real good, went back to school for my Bachelor’s, got a job as a veterans employment specialist with Goodwill Industries, and my wife and I just purchased our first home! It took a minute or two of transitioning (6 months unemployment, 6 months of “ditch-digging” type jobs) but we made it out just fine. Right now myself and another OIF veteran are running a marathon to raise money for our local veteran/military community (check us out on facebook “Two Veterans Fund”) and I have still kept in touch with Cureton and CPT Angell. No hair gel for me,…I have been hoplessly institutionalized and still “bic” my head. Also, got a chance to read “What color are your socks?” and enjoyed it a great deal as it highlighted the dynamic between garrison and field mentalities. Anyhow, take care and I always considered myself to be a very lucky Marine to have served in such a good unit with great leadership. Thanks!

      • Mike,
        I am thrilled to hear that life is going well. Good for you and your family! Thanks for reading and for your great service.
        I’ll check out your FB site- great work!

  3. Mike,
    We met many years ago in and out of Iraq. i was one of the Air Officers for IMEF in 2004-2005 and all of 2006 Fallujah, Ramadi, Haditha… Just read your article “leading With PTSD.” If I had had the courage to admit it after 2005, I probably would not have retired in 2010. Thanks man, drop me a line…

  4. Mike,

    Great to see you are doing so well. It’s been a long time since OCS. I greatly appreciate these articles as I am in the transition myself…headed out on 1 Aug. Keep the articles and info coming. They are great!

    Jeff Eichholz

    • Hey Jeff,
      Great to hear from you! How goes transition? I would love to hear about your experiences. I am compiling a lot of the posts from the blog along with some new stuff into a book about the subject.
      What’s next for you?

  5. Sir,
    i know it is supposed to be Mike but that just does not seem right. well i am retiring Feb 8th, 2013 and thanks to you and your website it has been alot easier. i would like to send you and invite but i can seem to figure out where i put your email address so if you dont mind could you please send it to me? thank you.

    Chad Gard

  6. Dear Lt Col Grice,

    Before beginning I would like to take a moment and introduce myself. I am a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a former Officer of Marines who served during the Cold War. My period of service lasted from the late 1970’s to the mid 1980s, beginning with tours in combat arms, (Infantry and Armor.), and later doing very sensitive classified work for most of the remainder of my career. These billets required an above Top Secret clearance, and involved classified documents control, cryptographic security, and the potential use of special weapons. It was these later assignments that contributed toward me ending my career sooner than I’d thought, but I’ll get into that part of my life another time.

    Much of what I read on your blog concerning your adjustment back into the civilian world really struck a nerve in me. I too experienced, and to this day still occasionally experience, a degree of alienation and downright isolation that one feels when suddenly re-entering the civilian world. In many ways you are a lot more fortunate than I was when it came to getting help. Back when I got out in 1985, there weren’t very many resources for vets like myself. The VA practically ignored us back then. There was no GI Bill, no re-entry programs, no access to mental health services, and hardly any assistance at all in education and job training. This was due to the policies of a former Defense Secretary named Donald Rumsfeld, during his first term in office. A real bastard back then and still a bastard today. Because of these obstacles, I felt very disillusioned and betrayed.

    It’s been quite a wild ride in the twenty eight years since I hung up my uniform. My job history has been pretty chequered, but I am still here, still alive, and twelve years sober. I studied classical representational art and illustration for almost twenty five years, and am also starting classes in multimedia at a local community college. The number one reason why I’m still alive and kicking is because of my being the partner for thirteen years of a cute lady from Switzerland. By pure coincidence, her father was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Swiss Army, so this former Officer gets an Officer’s daughter- Fate!

    As for getting any help from the Veterans Administration, I was finally able to get my medical coverage, but I no longer use any of their mental health services. After my bad experience with their bureaucratic nonsense, the VA can frankly just go to hell. I do not want the Government’s assistance, nor do I want the Government’s money. For nearly thirty years I’ve had to learn to solve my issues without the VA, and to ultimately rely on my own resources and my family for the help I need.

    And now to the final reason for this message. In the veterans community I do not hear too much about the travails of former Officers. Its as if we are invisible. A search of the web reveals hardly anything at all regarding organizations, groups, or individuals who can deal with the unique set of issues that former officers face. Because of this lack of resources, I am considering putting together a support group or network for Military Officers with PTSD. If you yourself know of any other former officers who are in our situation, perhaps it would be a good idea if we could start just such a group, even if it is online or otherwise.

    Thank you for your time and also for your service.

    Semper Fi,

    John F. Davies
    1st Lieutenant USMC

    Looking at your biography, I saw that you served in the East Timor relief.
    An old TBS classmate of mine, Col. Paul Maubert, was the CO of that operation.
    A fine man in every way.

    • John,
      Thanks for reading, and for sharing your story. I began my career as you were leaving the Marine Corps, and remember those days well. I think that your generation of servicemembers have indeed been forgotten, and for that there is no excuse. The wars of today have brought veterans issues to the forefront, which is good. Unfortunately, the propensity for the nation to forget is quite large, and soon enough after the last shots are fired we will again become a forgotten class of citizens.
      I think your idea of an officer’s affiliation is a good one. I am not aware of such an organization, though…something well worth pondering!

  7. Dear Mike,

    I do appreciate your response. Cold War Veterans are indeed survivors of America’s longest war, ( 1948-1991). Ask those like myself who had Armageddon in thier own hands, living with this responsibility day in and day out, and then being forbidden to ever discuss our experiences. And let no one else say otherwise. It was indeed a war, the most global one in our history, with massive casualties on both sides. Veterans of Korea and Vietnam are also members of this club, as both conflicts were fought in the shadow of nuclear weapons.

    And yet, in spite of massive support in Congress, the Defense Department is fighting with all its might to prevent authorization of a Cold War Service Medal.
    While at the same time, DOD authorizes a decoration for some pogue who sits on his butt in a cubicle, pushing buttons and flipping a joystick.
    Once again, I myself feel personally insulted .

    Please see below:

    However, on the positive side, much of what I did back then is slowly becoming declassiifed, and in many ways it now gives me an opportunity to get my concerns and issues out in the open. However, there are massive ammounts of Cold War documentation that are still held under the strictest security. I’ll tell you the reason why this is so.
    If any of this information ever became public, the history of the last half century would have to be entirely re-written.

    Lets discuss this Officer’s support network further, because its about time we all had one.
    Regards to your loved ones.

    Semper Fi

    John F.

  8. Thank you, sir ~ for your service & for sharing your awesome journey transitioning back into the “real world” after bravely & honourably serving your country. My late father was a Marine & my hero… I wish you & yours the best life has to offer, you certainly deserve it 🙂

  9. Thank you, sir for both your service and willingness to read my site. It is an honor to meet you. I’m certain I will enjoy hearing your story. When my uncle retired from the Marines, he found it quite difficult to believe that as a foreman in a warehouse, his underlings didn’t jump when he spoke. He had been a MSgt.

  10. LtCol Mike Grice: We were not here when you first started documenting & recording this amazing/awesome journey from “LifeTime Marine Officer” to “Transitioning Into the Real World” but we have truly enjoyed your “story” {and, as a result, we have taken the time to read your “archives”} .
    We have said it before, but it bears repeating: the time you have taken to document your transition back into the “real world” after faithfully & honourably serving your country has meant so much to us ~ it has really helped us understand our late father’s choices & some of the decisions he was forced to make {we honestly do not have adequate words here ~ and we are never speechless}.
    We feel quite certain that many transitioning military personnel, their families & loved ones must feel the same.We are quite certain that the blog AND book will make that transition a bit more comprehensible & easier to understand to those “hanging up the uniform one last time” & will be referred to often.
    We have enjoyed reading about your journey & we wish you the best of luck with the book ~ we only wish we had been around before final printing to post “a blurb” ~ alas, reality often intervenes & causes our best intentions to turn into chaos, confusion & a bit of “insanity” 😉
    We wanted to ask if you mind us re-posting your articles/posts/news & information on our site {http://melancholybluez.com} . We have been “away” for awhile & have amassed a large number of your posts that we are holding “in queue” to “re-blog” on our site {we always ask in advance before publishing, if possible, when there are numerous posts we wish to share}! During our extended absence from the “virtual world”, we have daily reports emailed to us from your blog/website & a few select others that interest or inspire us. We are looking forward to reading your book & possibly sharing our thoughts in future posts! Wishing you & yours the very best, you have most certainly earned it!
    Ms. Hunter L. Blue {and the “7 of Hearts”, “An Unchained Melody” & “The Dark Angels”}.

    • Thank you for reading and for your kind words! Please do repost and spread the word as far and wide as possible. I am honored that you feel it worthy of sharing!

      • Thank you so much, sir! We received our kindle edition of the book {print copy to follow, we love BOOKS} & are already posting links to it on our twitter accounts ~ We are so excited for you! {you may have noticed that there are a “few of us in residence” so we should get a bit of “coverage” from whoever is on line}. 😉
        We are honoured to share your story and, indeed the stories of OUR real American Heroes. We are as supportive as we can be for those heroes, in our own small ways & always happy to contribute with new & creative ideas. 😉 We feel that the men & women who serve have been getting paid in Junk Bonds for far too long – all of you deserve much better. We have recently added another page to the site called “Military Red, White & Bluez” to showcase our favourite stories, authors & designs, our creations honouring those who serve, news, info & more. Our most popular posts are the military & PTSD projects. We have been away for awhile & have fallen behind, but we are excited to be starting back soon. We have so many ideas & projects in various stages and lots of posts queued up to re-blog.
        We also designed a picture for our posts & would like you to have one if you wish. Thank you, so much for your service & this blog, sir!

  11. Sir, America owes your good family a world of thanks. With that good family surrounding you, I sincerely hope your transition will be successful. Your site – it is a fantastic thing to be doing for our vets.

      • Good Morning Sir,

        Thank you for your thoughts on transition and for shining a light on how this mandated program is failing our service members. I am a recently transitioned Veteran an working on significant changes our TAPs program through my organization. It is an extremely important mission for us. I saw your site and I was so impressed that you actually told the facts on the program. I would love to be able to speak with you more on the subject of transition as we move forward toward vital changes. I believe that the intent could be looked at as effective but the execution is flawed. We are featuring your book on our website. http://www.usv.academy. I would like to be able to obtain my insight on your ideas and point of view. Please let me know if this is possible.


        Assal Ravandi

  12. LtCol Grice, we have been away for awhile with another back surgery & then we had to run for our lives again. We have read your book the first time & made our notes. As soon as things quiet down, a review will be forthcoming. We also have several blogs queued up for posting.

    In the meantime, the book is fabulous & should be given to every soldier that signs up to wear the uniform in the early stages {basic training would be perfect}. It’s never to early for a soldier & his or her loved ones to begin learning about how service will change their lives.

    I hope that soldiers will return home in one piece, fit & healthy, but we know that’s like living in FantasyLand. Some of the ins & outs would be helpful to know about that transition. Thank you, sir, for writing this book ~ and! as always, thank you for your service. Phoenix

  13. Mike,

    Been a while since we found ourselves together often in Ar Ramadi, but have thought about you and the team often since then. Plus our CAV SQDN transitioned from the 1-167 CAV to now the 1-134th CAV shortly after our tour. Anyway, sharing the same Blood/mud has made me remember you from time to time. So I finally took a moment to find you on here. I hope this note finds you well. I am still in the Army, we’ll have to link up some time, even if just by email initially.

    Brothers Always- Til the End!

    Jeff Searcey

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