He is former editor of National Geographic magazine and chairman of the board of trustees of the National Geographic Society and its Education Foundation. Gilbert Grosvenor retired as the Society's president in June 1996, the fifth generation of his family to serve in that position. He was a soldier in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956, and here's what that service meant to him.
As a private in the Army, I knew one thing for sure: serving in the military would have no impact on the rest of my life. When I got out, after a 21-month hitch, I thought it had all been a big waste of time. It was only years later, when my civilian career was in full swing, that I realized how valuable my stint in the military had been. I wish I had been more serious then.
Two months after graduating from Yale, I was drafted and shipped to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for basic training. When I finished, the Army assigned me to psychological warfare at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the 101st Airborne Division, which in the mid-1950s had little use for PsyWar. We confirmed their worst fears.