pictured: Kris Grandlinard (left) and Chuck Myers at US Aggregates’ Portland, Indiana location
On November 11 and every day, we want to thank our more than hundreds of veterans in the Heritage family for your service. To celebrate Veterans Day, enjoy this story of two veterans who reconnected at US Aggregates after serving together over 30 years ago.
Kris Grandlinard joined the armed forces in 1986, following in the footsteps of World War II veterans in his family. “I felt a duty to honor them and to serve my country,” Kris said. A recruiter’s call for special volunteers set him on a course to Arlington to join a special unit called the 3rd Infantry, also known as the Old Guard. Since 1784, the Old Guard has performed ceremonies and attended to dignitaries and diplomatic events in Washington, DC.
In preparation for joining the Old Guard in Fort Myer, VA, Kris went through more than just basic training. “My company wore period uniforms of the Revolutionary War,” he said, “and we had to polish the buttons ourselves.” The precision and attention to detail instilled in the recruits was essential to their performance not only as soldiers, but as leaders of ceremony.
While Kris would lead burials at Arlington and escort government officials, his unit also performed in the Spirit of America, the largest military pageant in the US Army. In the pageant, the Old Guard would reenact historic battles in authentic uniforms while carrying and firing real firearms.
“It helped that the lights were only on the floor and you didn’t see the crowd, but you knew they were there,” Kris said. If he could have seen into the sound booth during his first Spirit of America in 1986, he would have noticed Chuck Myers, who would become his coworker decades later.
Chuck’s career ambitions in voice work led him to the military. “In high school, I was terrified to speak in front of people, so I had to learn really fast to overcome that,” he said. After earning a degree in broadcasting, he decided to further his education by joining the armed forces. Like Kris, Chuck was recruited to join the Old Guard; after an audition, he got orders to train in preparation for serving at Arlington.
From 1984-86, Chuck worked at Arlington National Cemetery, issuing periodic announcements. His duties also led him to become “the voice of the Old Guard”—the narrator of the Spirit of America pageant.
Chuck’s last Spirit of America performance was in 1986, the same year that Kris began his tenure with the Old Guard. Both men—one on stage and one narrating from the sound booth—would end up in eastern Indiana decades later, both working for US Aggregates.
After four years in the army, Kris decided to return to agriculture on his family’s farm. Having grown up across from a stone quarry, he met the owners and mentioned he was looking for a job. In 1990, he started at US Agg’s Linn Grove, Indiana location.
Chuck came back from the military and began working in construction with his brother-in-law. He transitioned to factory work, and then to his current job as a Plant Clerk at US Agg’s Portland, Indiana location. He continues to do radio, voiceover and narration work in his own time.
“I take great pride in being able to serve my people and our country. I just wanted to give back after what this great nation has given me,” Kris said, referring to the gravity of his work in the Old Guard’s Alpha Company and its impact on the families of those he helped lay to rest in Arlington.
Chuck appreciates the understanding of American history he gained as a member of the Old Guard. “It was a privilege to serve my country. I really enjoy living in this country and I understand the way that it was formed,” he said.
Fast forward to 2019. A US Agg newsletter celebrating the company’s veterans detailed both Kris’s and Chuck’s service histories. “I saw it in the BLAST, and the next time I saw Chuck, I asked him about it and we got to talking,” Kris said. “It was kind of neat that we were both there, even though it was a short period of time because Chuck had moved on in ’86 and I was just getting there.”
“What are the odds of that? Such a small area we live in, a rural area, and ending up at the same place,” Chuck added. Out of all the possible placements for a soldier in 1986, both ended up in the same premiere unit, overlapping for a single performance.