Commander Grimes, is a graduate of the London Business School, Executive MBA Class of 2017 and a graduate of Boston University with a B.A. in International Relations. He was commissioned as an Ensign following graduation from Aviation Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL. He earned his “wings of gold” as a Naval Flight Officer in the E-2 Hawkeye Command and Control Aircraft. He is also a graduate of the Naval Strike and Warfare Advanced Mission Commander Course and Defense Intelligence Agency Joint Military Attaché School. He has completed Naval War College post-graduate studies in National Security Decision Making and in Strategy and War. CDR Grimes’ operational assignments include various leadership positions in aircraft carrier-based squadrons, completing five operational deployments onboard the aircraft carriers USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71), USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64), USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), and USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67). He has also deployed to and operated ashore from Panama, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. (Demetries Grimes)
Demetries’ father, Melvin Grimes enlisted in the US Navy when at the age of seventeen and served as an Engineman on everything from mine-hunters, amphibious ships, patrol boats, frigates, and destroyers. He was at sea during the Cuban missile crisis and other historic moments during the Cold War. According to Demetries, he was a proud sailor and American, and he retired as a Chief Engineman after more than 23 years of naval service. His mother’s maiden name was Pappaleonidas and her heritage is from the village of Efira, near Amaliada and Pyrgos in the Peloponnese. His parents met while his father was assigned to the US Navy Base at Nea Makri. His best friend’s fiancé was his mother’s best friend, which is how they met. They were married at St. Demetrios Loumbardians on Philopappou Hill near the Acropolis in Athens. His grandfather, Dimitrios gave her away. After they married, Melvin Grimes took a new assignment, which had him deploy with his ship to Vietnam. Since his mother had no family in the US, his father left her with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana to take care of her during his deployment. This was a bold move by his mother, considering she was just twenty years old and barely spoke English. Demetries was born a month after his father deployed. A Greek family, the Karlos’, who owned a diner in town became his mother’s connection to Greece and the community. The owner, George Karlos, became his Godfather. Demetries was named after his mother’s father, Dimitrios and was his first grandson. His grandfather passed before Demetries had a chance to meet him but he recalls stories of what a gentleman he was and how he took great pride in having an American grandson. For the Grimes family, home was where the Navy sent his father. They moved nearly every three years; Great Lakes, Newport, Athens, where Demetries attended third and fourth grades at the American Community School (ACS), then Charleston. After his father’s retirement from the US Navy they moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Demetries was sent to Kifissia to attend TASIS Hellenic. Before he left for college, the family established their home in Florida. From there he went to Boston and earned his B.A. in International Relations from Boston University. Demetries is very proud of his Greek roots. His mother made sure he understood and appreciated his Greek heritage, history, traditions, Greece's contributions to humanity, and taught him to respect that of others. Growing up, the local Greek Orthodox Church played a central role in connecting fellow Hellenes. Demetries' love for Greece grew during his early visits as a child and growing up in Greece during his pre-university years.
As the son of a US Navy Chief Engineman, Demetries developed a fascination and admiration for the US Navy at an early age. One of his earliest memories was watching on TV the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and the crew’s recovery aboard the USS Hornet (CV 12). He grew up building model aircraft carriers and airplanes to include the USS John F Kennedy (CV 67). He never imagined that he would fly missions from the “JFK” years later. His father also introduced him to the classic naval aviation films Midway, Tora Tora Tora, and The Bridges of Toko-Ri. Of course, Top Gun premiered just in time to draw him further down this path. When he announced to his parents his decision to enter the military after his graduation from Boston University his father was proud and his mother, although scared, was happy knowing he was following his dreams. After his basic training, he was appointed as a Naval Flight Officer. Demetries flew with T-34C and T-2 Buckeye with the VT-10 Wildcats, in Naval Air Station Pensacola Florida and with T-2 Buckeye and T-47A Citation with the VT-86 SabreHawks in Naval Air Station Pensacola Florida. As a Naval Flight Officer, his training was exactly like the aviators in T-34C and T-2 aircraft Officer until the solo phase before focusing on a multicrew low level, instrument, and intercept training in the T-47A. That meant that all these officers had an extensive flight training which would help them later while serving in multi-crew Navy Aircraft. He was later assigned for training in the airborne radar, E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, usually known as the 'Eyes of the Fleet', a very demanding post. Through the years Demetries rose to the rank of Mission Commander which is the highest warfare specialty in the aircraft. Mission Commander is responsible for all aspects of the mission (planning, execution, and debrief) including contingencies and compliance with rules of engagement. During his career Cdr. Demetries Grimes completed five operational deployments on four different aircraft carriers: USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), USS Constellation (CV 64), USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), and USS John F Kennedy (CV 67). He also flew training and local operations from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), and USS George Washington (CVN 73). He was assigned to E-2C Hawkeye Squadron VAW-124 Bear Aces, of Carrier Air Wing 8, flying from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), while cruising in Atlantic, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean, Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf during 1992. He took part in Operation DESERT STORM and Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.
Training for Student NFOs (SNFOs) starts out the same as for Student Naval Aviators (SNAs), with the same academic requirements and nearly identical physical requirements. The only real distinction is in physical requirements, where SNFOs may have less than 20/20 uncorrected distant vision. In fact, it is this 20/20 uncorrected distant visual acuity requirement for Student Naval Aviators that typically routes prospective Naval Aviators into the Naval Flight Officer training track. Both SNAs and SNFOs go through the same introductory flight screening and aviation preflight indoctrination together before splitting off into their respective primary training squadrons. The SNFO program has continued to evolve since the 1960s. Today, SNFOs train under the Undergraduate Military Flight Officer (UMFO) program at Training Air Wing 6 (TRAINING SIX) at NAS Pensacola, alongside foreign students from various NATO, Allied and Coalition navies and air forces. All Student NFOs begin primary training at Training Squadron TEN (VT-10), flying the T-6A Texan II trainer, eventually moving on to advanced training at Training Squadron FOUR (VT-4) or Training Squadron EIGHTY-SIX (VT-86). Upon graduation from their respective advanced squadron, students receive their "wings of gold" and are aeronautically designated as Naval Flight Officers. After winging, students conduct follow-on training at their respective fleet replacement squadron. Cmdr Grimes flew with North American Aviation T-34C Turbo-Mentor and North American T-2 Buckeye during his initial NFO flight training, before he was chosen for the E-2C Hawkey Communty. (Demetries Grimes & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_flight_officer)
It may not be glamorous, but the largely misunderstood Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is arguably the most important aircraft deployed aboard America's supercarriers. It acts as the high-flying eyes of the carrier strike group and provides critical air traffic control and combat management for carrier air wing aircraft, as well as communications relay and other functions. The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning and command and control functions for the carrier battle group. Additional missions include surface surveillance coordination, strike and interceptor control, search and rescue guidance and communications relay. An integral component of the carrier air wing, the E-2C uses computerised sensors to provide early warning, threat analyses and control of counteraction against air and surface targets. The Hawkeye, Bu.No.161552, AJ601, was Cdr Grimes aircraft while flying from CVN-75, USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, with VAW-124 'Bear Ace'. The plane captain was Cdr J.J. George and the aircraft carried the distinctive 'Miss B' Havin' nose art. (Copyright Tom Cooper)
He continued his service with the VAW-124 Bear Aces of Carrier Air Wing 8, flying again from the deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) while cruising in the Atlantic, Persian Gulf, Mediterranean, Adriatic Sea, and the Red Sea during 1993. He took part in Operation DENY FLIGHT and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. During 1997 he was assigned as Flag Lieutenant/Aide-de-Camp to Commander, for Cruiser Destroyer Group ONE and flew with E-2C Hawkeye Squadron VAW-116 Sun Kings of Carrier Air Wing 2, from the USS Constellation (CV 64), during her cruise in the Pacific, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Persian Gulf. During that cruise, he participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Three years later in 2000, he became an Operations Officer for the E-2C Hawkeye Squadron VAW-121 Bluetails of Carrier Air Wing 7, operated from USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), during her Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Adriatic. In 2002 he was assigned to E-2C Hawkeye Squadron VAW-121 Bluetails of Carrier Air Wing 7, this time from USS John F Kennedy (CV 67), during the cruise in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf. He took part in Operation NOBLE EAGLE, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Shore Based operations included Counter-Narcotics Operations deployments and missions to Panama, Honduras, Guantanamo Bay, Puerto Rico, and Key West. He was also fortunate to participate in multiple NASA Space Shuttle Launch Search and Rescue Alert Operations and have a front row seat to these beautiful historic events. Serving above the US flattops is a lifetime experience. According to Demetries:
"The adrenaline rush is part of it. It’s an honor and a privilege that few will ever experience. Words really can’t describe with justice the feeling of pride, esprit de corps, and brotherhood that exists in the naval aviation community. At the foundation is our trust and mutual respect of one another."
Greece was also part of his life in carriers as he was frequently serving with other Greek American USN pilots and airmen. He remembers celebrating Orthodox Easter during deployments in various seas around the world, while eating Easter eggs and tsoureki made by his mother! Some of his most memorable missions included a successful hunt for an Iranian Kilo Class Submarine which we found surfaced in broad daylight. As he described:
“It was a beautiful day, so we descended quite low for a few fly-bys to get a closer look, take some photos, and render an international salute.”
His assignment to the US Base at Souda was one of the highlights of his US Navy career. He states that:
"Working with such an incredible team of dedicated servicemen and women, US and Greek civilians, and the US and Greek officials at such an important time in our history and in such a beautiful place was an honor, a privilege, and a dream come true. I wish I could have stayed there longer!”
Above: At sea with USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Apr. 24, 2002 -- Lt. Cmdr Demetries Grimes, a Naval Flight Officer assigned to the "Bluetails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two One (VAW-121), tracks aircraft at his station as mission commander in an E-2C “Hawkeye” while on a combat mission over Afghanistan. Kennedy and her embarked Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) are conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Jim Hampshire. (USN ID 020424-N-6492H-527)
Below: On the flight line at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia with fellow instructors from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Fleet Replacement Squadron One Two Zero - VAW-120 Greyhawks (Demetries Grimes)
During his career with the US Navy Demetries Grimes had a chance to fly some acquaintance with other carrier-based aircraft manned by NFO's. Those included the venerable EA-6B Prowler and the mighty F-14A/B Tomcat. The admiration for the Grumman Cat is a common issue not only for Navy aviators and servicemen but for aviation enthusiasts too. An admiration which practically immortalized by the successful TOP GUN movie. (Demetries Grimes)
During the meeting with the GREEKS IN FOREIGN COCKPITS team we asked Demetries about his decision to run a campaign for Congress and what does this mean for the Greek American community and Greece in general? Demetries said:
“Congress needs leadership. It is an important institution that continues to lose credibility and respect because of extreme partisan divisions and special interest control. As a military officer, I took an oath and for more than 25 years went into harm’s way to serve all Americans. That oath does not expire. In the military, we work as a team to overcome challenges, we serve all, and we leave no one behind. I want to bring that same ethic and spirit of serving the people to Washington. We have the fewest number of military veterans in our history, less than twenty percent, serving in the US Congress at a time the United States faces its greatest diplomatic, military, economic, and environmental challenges ever. The US Government can serve all Americans better and it begins with credible leadership that understands the challenges our nation faces, is dedicated to getting the job done, and is committed to restoring civility, decency, respect, and integrity in public service.”
“Greece and the United States have always had a special bond, have been steadfast Allies, and share common interests in the region. As with the decline in the number of military veterans in the US Congress, we now have the fewest number of Greek-Americans and members in the US Congress who understand the issues and challenges of the region. I want to reverse that downward trend by winning a seat and helping other credible leaders win seats. As during the post-WWII period, the serious challenges Greece, the United States, and our European Allies face in the region are shaping the future of western civilization and as in the past, Greece is at the frontier of that fight”
We wish Demetries Grimes good luck to his new endeavor for Congress and we hope that many more Greek Americans, no matter the parties they belong to earn their place in Congress and other high ranks of the United States of America. Greece needs them now, more than ever.
Left: CDR Grimes assumed duty as aircraft squadron VAW 121 Operations Officer during OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE following 9/11/2001 and deployed for combat operations in Afghanistan from the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) in February 2002 where he also earned his Command Duty Officer and Officer of the Deck Underway (CDO/OOD) qualifications. Cdr Grimes has logged more than 100 combat sorties and more than 2000 flight hours in the E-2 Hawkeye aircraft. The photos above were taken during his combat deployments. (Demetries Grimes)
Left-Above-Right: Demetries Grimes photos while serving with the Combined Interagency Task Force 435 in Afghanistan. Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 mission is to "train, advise and assist the Afghan National Army and Afghan Justice Sector to develop Rule of Law-based investigation, prosecution and detention of insurgent and terror-related threats while conducting U.S. Law of Armed Conflict detainee operations for third-country nationals to protect U.S. forces and strengthen the legitimacy of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." Looks like Greece is everywhere, even in Afganistan, judging by the former KTEL Bus, used by the local Bus lines. (Demetries Grimes, further notes by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Task_Force_435)
CDR Grimes has served overseas as Military Cooperation Plans and Programs Officer, NATO-Russia Programs Officer, and Deputy, Joint Operations Centre at NATO Joint Command South Centre, Larissa, Greece and Navy Programs Director at the Office of Defence Cooperation at the US Embassy in Athens, Greece. His diplomatic assignments include tours as US Naval Attaché to the Hellenic Republic and US Naval Attaché to the State of Israel. In spring 2011, Cdr Grimes completed a deployment to Parwan, Afghanistan in support of Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force FOUR THREE FIVE. Prior to arriving at NATO Headquarters, Allied Maritime Command, UK, Cdr Grimes served as Deputy Commander/Executive Officer of the US Navy’s strategic forward operating base at Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. CDR Grimes’ awards include the Defence Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Strike Flight Air Medals (five awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards plus “Combat V”), Joint Service Achievement Medal (three awards), various expeditionary, unit and campaign awards, Israeli Ministry of Defence Service in Israel Medal, and State Department Meritorious Honor Award (two awards). (Demetries Grimes)
A strong and capable man usually takes the best of his parents. Cdr Grimes was blessed to have two wonderful parents who gave him those virtues needed to become an excellent officer and above all an excellent human character. His father, Melvin Grimes was the raw model for him, in order to join the US Navy. As he stated in an interview: "He served as an Engineman on everything from mine-hunters, amphibious ships, patrol boats, frigates, and destroyers. He had some great stories of being at sea during the Cuban missile crisis and other historic moments. A proud sailor and American, he retired as a Chief Engineman after more than 23 years of naval service." His mother was his bond with Hellenism. She passed him his Greek heritage and did whatever she could in order Demetries learn the Greek language. He also said to the same journalist: "I’m thankful to my mother for this, who used hard-earned money she made as a seamstress to pay for private Greek language tutors for me all the way through university. I dreaded these sessions at the time, but she was right when she promised I would appreciate it one day. Making my Greek language skills clear to my superiors early in my career opened countless opportunities for me." (Demetries Grimes & Dimitri C. Michalakis interview during May 14, 2018)
Personal Corespondence with CDR Demetrios Grimes (USN ret.)