Like many children born in the 1930s, Grant Ward had to deal with hardship from an early age. Sometimes there wasn't much to eat, and while he stayed in school, it was touch and go for a while. He watched as the attack on Pearl Harbor sent a slightly older generation shipping off to fight… but a decade later, while open conflict erupted in Korea, he set out on a different path. There were other fights to fight, unnoticed by most, in need of people with the right skill set. He worked briefly with the SSR, was one of SHIELD's earliest trainees, and by now is one of its more experienced agents.
That's not the whole story, though. Dig deep enough into his history, and there's an ugly incident involving his brothers, not that any of them agree on whose fault it was. A couple years between school and career, corresponding to some sealed court records. And watching, waiting, for the moment when his true loyalty - and their true goals - come to light.