- Cold War Era
Michael R. Grilli was born on 11 August 1939 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the son of Joseph and Marie (Martino) K. Grilli. Mike is a 1957 graduate of Classical High School where he was an honor student and an outstanding member of the varsity football and basketball teams. He entered the University of Rhode Island College upon graduating from high school. While at URI, he participated in Army ROTC and was a Cadet Company Commander, member of the Pershing Rifles Drill Team, designated as a Distinguished Military Student and selected as a member of Scabbard and Blade Military Honor Society. He was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity where he was elected to serve as vice-president and then president. In June 1962, Mike earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers.
His initial company grade assignments were at the Engineering School, Fort Belvoir, VA, where he completed the Engineer Officers Basic Course followed by the Construction and Planning Course. He then served as a platoon leader and communications officer for 317th Engineer Battalion, Frankfurt, Germany. Throughout the Cold War, the Battalion provided combat engineer support to the US Army, enjoyed a close partnership with a German engineer battalion, and performed civic action missions throughout the European Theater, to include bridge construction in Tunisia. The German government awarded the Battalion the Fahnenband Einsatz fur Frieden und Freiheit Medal. In August 1963, Captain Grilli was assigned to the 299th Engineer Battalion, Fort Gordon, Georgia, as a company commander with the mission of training newly commissioned infantry lieutenants and organizing the 299th Engineer Battalion prior to their deployment to Vietnam.
CPT Grilli had multiple key engineer positions in Europe and the United States during the Cold War. In all assignments, he performed his duties in an outstanding manner. He was responsive to the needs of the Army. He is a dynamic leader with strong engineering technical skills. He is an outstanding example of a citizen soldier. CPT Grilli left active duty in 1964 after two years and immediately joined the U.S. Army Reserves to continue his service as a company commander with an Armored Division of the New Jersey National Guard.
LTC Warren G. Beer, CPT Grilli’s former Battalion Commander in Europe, wrote the following to the President, EMC Company: “Captain Michael Grilli served under my command in the 317th Engineer Battalion. His performance was so outstanding that I wanted you to know that it far exceeded that of his contemporaries with more experience and training. I wanted you to know that your gain is a significant loss to us. Knowing that Mike is continuing to serve in the Army Reserves is a positive for the U.S. Army and our country.” Mike went on to have a successful career in the civilian community as Vice President and General Manager of EMC Corp while serving in the New Jersey National Guard.
Captain Mike Grilli is a long-standing member of the URI Alumni Association and a strong supporter of the URI Army ROTC Alumni Chapter annual memorial golf tournament. When the URI ROTC Alumni Chapter embarked on the campaign to upgrade the ROTC Hall of Fame Display in the Memorial Union, Mike stepped forward and made a significant contribution for the project.
Mike and his former wife Janice (Ames) Grilli have four children and five grandchildren. Their sons, Mike and David, followed Mike into military service. Mike served in the US Army and David served in the USMC. Captain Michael Grilli’s outstanding leadership and innovation as well as devotion to the military, his businesses and communities reflect great credit upon his country, his family and the University of Rhode Island.