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Grieves was born in Liberty Center, Ohio. At a young age his parents moved the family to Detroit, Michigan for his father to take a job in the automotive industry.Grieves' life during the depression was tough. He grew up in stark poverty. The automotive industry would manufacture cars for nine months, then would close for three during which the workers were all laid off. When the plants were open life was good, but during the three months they were closed things were tough.Grieves' mother died of a rare form of anemia when he was eleven years old leaving his father to raise him and his three siblings.While he was in high school he learned of a program where he could join the navy reserve. He did so and shortly after he graduated he was accepted into the service.Grieves enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was sent to a Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island for boot training. While there, the submarine Squalus [Annotator's Note: USS Squalus (SS-192)] went down. Once the downed submarine was located the submarine rescue vessel Falcon [Annotator's Note: USS Falcon (AM-28/ASR-2)] moored above the wreck. The Falcon used a McCann Rescue Chamber and rescued 33 surviving crewmen from the Squalus.When the call went for men to help raise the Squalus, Grieves was selected to be one of the salvage men. During the long days of work Grieves worked shoulder to shoulder with the 33 survivors of the submarine. He noticed the special bond between the Squalus survivors and at that moment he decided that he wanted to serve in submarines.When they brought the Squalus into the navy yard in Portsmouth, Grieves volunteered for submarine duty.
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