A native of Swainsboro, Georgia, Brigadier General Tommy F. Grier graduated from GMC in 1960. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia in 1962, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Shippensburg University in 1983. Grier received his commission on August 16, 1962, through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. His first assignment was as a propaganda officer for the 13th Psychological Warfare Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
After attending flight training school, Grier served as armed helicopter section leader from 1966-1967, with the 121st Aviation Company in the Republic of Vietnam. Prior to attending the Infantry Officers Advanced Course in 1969, he served for two years as an instructor pilot and flight commander at the Army Primary Helicopter School.