Larry Grathwohl was one of a disappearing breed, from the working class, an American patriot, who had a clear moral vision. He fought communists in the jungles of Vietnam and then in their clandestine cells here in America. He was a gentleman, respectful of women, a loving father and grandfather.
A year after his untimely death, I still feel his absence. I hear his corny jokes. When I hear a funny phrase, I can hear him repeating it obsessively. In May 2013, he and Tina Trent and I were speaking to tea party groups in Florida about the republication of Larry’s book about infiltrating the Weather Underground, Bringing Down America. Larry’s sense of humor helped bring lightness to our grim and ugly subject, Bill Ayers and the group he cofounded, Weatherman, which became the Weather Underground.
After a summer break, we were to resume our tour. Then we got the devastating news that Larry had been found dead in his apartment on July 18, 2013.
I had met Larry at one of Cliff Kincaid’s conferences several years ago. Cliff is a fearless advocate for the forgotten victims of communist terrorist groups like the Weatherman. I was discussing my report about how Bill Ayers, terrorist-turned-education-professor, indoctrinated students toward his Marxist revolutionary plan. Larry talked about his experiences as an infiltrator, about Weather Underground’s murderous plans and actions. One of these actions—the bombing of a Detroit police station--he sabotaged.
Larry described such tasks and those he faced while serving in Vietnam matter-of-factly, never with bravado. He used the survival strategies he had learned in Vietnam and applied them to the very dangerous work of living in the cells of these revolutionaries.
During breaks between tea party events last year, Larry was reading Cathy Wilkerson’s "Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman." Every few pages he’d have to stop because of his astonishment at her lack of remorse. We would compare her account with Bill Ayers’s versions. After serving time in prison, Wilkerson, like most of the other terrorists, went into teaching.