On December 25,1967 at Danang, Quang Nam Province, Repuplic of Vietnam, as a
result of his aircraft going into an uncontrolled flight, Lieutenant Grud ejected at an altitude of 200 to 300 feet
above the ground. He suffered fatal injuries when he contacted the ground, prior to the full deployment of his parachute.
One witness said it was early when the plane returned from a photo recon mission. He was waiting for the plane to land in order
to change the film for development. He observed the Phantom coming in too fast, in his opinion. It touched down far down the
runway with tailhook down. The afterburners lit up after a short time, indicating an attempt to abort the landing. However, it was
too late as the hook snapped the cable forcing the plane to lift back into the air, roll leftward, straighten up, and crash onto the
runway, tailhook still down. The observer was too far away to see the two men eject. Neither ejection could avoid injury to the
pilot and Grud.
The pilot, Major Daniel C Escalera, received multiple injuries after his ejection and was transferred to a hospital in Japan
for treatment. A check of logs for the month of December 1967 shows LT Grud flew back seat in missions every day during the month;
sometimes he flew two flights a day, with Pilots Majors Quist, Foster, Fallon, Goller, Bown, Moreland, Escelera, Moran, Erickson,
and Lieutenant Colonel Lewis. He was scheduled for two missions on the 25th.
He was survived by his mother and father, Agnes P. Grud and Walter J. Grud of Park Ridge Illinois. In the Chicago Tribune on
November 16, 2001, the passing was announced for Agnes P. Grud, beloved wife of the late Walter J.; loving mother of
John M. (Ursula), Suzanne M. (Barry) Hornecker and the late Lt. Thomas A. Grud, U.S.M.C.; grandmother of Stephen, Thomas and
Kathryn; fond sister of Anthony Babits. Burial was in All Saints Cemetery. All Saints is where LT Thomas A. Grud is buried.
We think his father passed away in 1983 at the age of 73.
Photograph of Thomas A Grud from Captain Dean Percival (then a lieutenant and backseater), USMC
This RF-4 series photoreconnaissance Phantom jet belonging to VMCJ-1 at DaNang
is similar to the one in which 1LT Grud flew as an Airborne Reconnaissance Officer. In this scene (July, 1968)
the plane is being refueled while a photoavionics technician changes a film cassette in its nose camera bay.
The Thomas Anthony Grud Memorial Award scholarship is given annually at
Eastern Illinois University. Established by the family and friends of Thomas A. Grud, who was killed on
Christmas Day in 1967. The award goes annually to a male student who has earned a portion of his college
expenses and who is in need of additional financial assistance. Preference goes to those involved in
a men's social fraternity.