Tag Archives: Connecticut Veterans

U.S. Army Vet Glenn Hathaway of Groton Still Serves His Fellow Citizens

U.S. Army Veteran Glenn Hathaway of Groton enjoys his work as an EMT with Groton Hook & Ladder.

by Anna Maria Trusky

One of the most important things U.S. Army veteran Glenn Hathaway of Groton learned when he served his country during the Vietnam era is that “People are people,” he said. “Everyone is basically the same no matter where in the world they live.”

Glenn grew up on Oral School Road and attended Fitch High School. Both his parents worked at the Mystic Oral School. At 16, Glenn started working as an EMT with Groton Hook and Ladder back when it was a small firehouse on Gravel Street in Mystic. When he wasn’t responding to emergency calls—work he loved—Glenn enjoyed tooling around town in his flashy first car, a Pontiac GTO. However, when Glenn turned 18, he left the things he loved and joined the U.S. Army so he could serve his country.

The year was 1965, and the conflict in Vietnam was heating up. Glenn went through eight-week basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he was trained as a heavy duty machinist. From there he spent almost a year at Fort Riley, Kansas. “While I was there, they changed my MOS—military occupational specialty—to heavy vehicle operator. I learned to operate bulldozers, trucks, every kind of big vehicle there was.” Then came the inevitable orders to ship out to Southeast Asia.

“My platoon shipped out to Pleiku, in the central highlands of Vietnam,” Glenn recalled. Their home base was Camp Halloway, but being in transportation, Glenn and his nine platoon mates drove all over the country. A lot of their work involved moving troops and supplies inland from Cam Ranh Bay. “Cam Rahn Bay was actually a very beautiful place,” he recalled.

Glenn Hathaway as a young U.S. Army Heavy Vehicle Operator at Camp Halloway, Pleiku, Vietnam, 1966.

While many of his days were filled with the camaraderie of good friends, there were, of course, difficult times, too. “I was fortunate because I only saw action a couple of times, when our base was hit twice from ground and mortar attacks. We lost two men in those attacks,” Glenn said somberly. “One of the hardest things was unloading the helicopters containing the bodies of dead soldiers.”

Glenn returned to the States in 1967, where he finished out his service at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and came out as a Specialist 5. Then he returned to the Groton area, where he worked for SONOCO, a paper mill, and then drove a truck for Barnes Moving and Storage. He married twice and has a daughter, Beth, as well as three stepchildren he raised with his second wife.

It was Glenn’s niece who, about 15 years ago, got him back into the lifesaving EMT work he’d enjoyed as a teenager. “One day she said to me, ‘Uncle, I want to be an EMT but I’m afraid of needles.’ I told her that sometimes you just have to face your fears. She came back to me and said she’d signed up for an EMT class. I said I was proud of her. She said, ‘I’m proud of you, too—because I signed you up to take the class with me!’ I said I was afraid I was too old and she said, ‘Well, Uncle, sometimes you just have to face your fears!’

“I love this work and will keep doing it as long as I can,” Glenn said with a smile.

Glenn, we salute you and all those other brave Americans who face their fears to serve their countries in dangerous, faraway places. Thank you for your service!

Onetime Navy Tech Glenn Dean Is At Home With Modern Appliances

by Alexis Ann and John Stratton

Just in your mind, take a look around your house. There’s a lot surrounding you that you take for granted, that your mind skips over as commonplace, all those shiny “servants” waiting at the ready for your wishes. Yes, all those many tasks that you now have done for you by machines, clever devices that we call “appliances.”

Presiding over this recent domestic revolution are inventors, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and…the service technicians who keep the systems operating.

When Glenn Dean, a 17-year old from Pittsburgh, signed on for Navy submarine duty in 1968, he did not know that in a scant four decades he’d be president of Coogan-Gildersleeve Appliances, a prosperous and respected appliance retail outlet, with many hundreds of trusting customers and some 30 lines of devices to make life at home comfortable, safe, and attractive.  But that’s what happened.

Glenn volunteered for the Silent Service back in ’68. He soon received training as an interior communications technician, duty which included—for clearly Navy reasons— maintaining the washers and dryers aboard submarines, in addition to tuning up the  host of ultra-high-tech instruments which tell sailors where the boat’s headed and how it’s running.

Of course, everyone on board has to know many other jobs, but Glenn was a bit prepared for the washer-dryer duty because his uncle Al had been an appliance repairman and installer for the landmark Gimbels department store in Pittsburgh. Al had taken Glenn under his wing for several years after Glenn’s father passed away, and taught young Glenn some hands-on technology in the field.

So, here at the Base in Groton—when Glenn was busy acclimating himself to his brand-new submarine, USS Bergall, SSN-667, an EB-built Sturgeon-class boat launched in 1968 that was noted more for speed than roominess—he was learning a lot about complex instrumentation as well as washer-dryers. But learn he did, and received his silver dolphins as a member of the pre-commissioning and commissioning team. The vessel was at sea during much of the cold war, with antisubmarine stealth missions demanding the full measure of the ship’s motto: “Invisible, Invulnerable, Invincible.” Tough and interesting duty, recalls Glenn.

When Glenn completed his years of service in the Navy, he had some familiarity with life in southeastern Connecticut. He was ready to settle down to life on the surface around here, leaving behind a lot of his life in Pittsburgh—except for remaining a staunch Steelers fan!
After a stint at Stanley Works, in 1976 he signed on with Ed Coogan and Andy Gildersleeve at their appliance division on Route 1 in Mystic; he was their first serviceman, handling four product lines. He plunged into that opportunity too, taking many night-school classes, refrigeration courses at Norwich Tech, and personnel-management programs at Thames Valley.  Early on, his shoreside life included acquaintance with young C.J. Lewis of Mystic, who he married back then. They have two children, Stacey and Katie.

The dedicated work over the years added up to a big positive. When original owners Ed and Andy retired years ago, Glenn became the Coogan-Gildersleeve president. He’s remained true to their business traditions of sound business practice, superior service, good people, and thorough product knowledge. From the four brands that he started with 37 years ago, he and five service technicians now handle more than 30 products from their home base on Greenmanville Avenue, Route 27, in Mystic. And, as you might imagine, he’s Vet-friendly when it comes to hiring and sales.  He’s been there.

Though products change, says Glenn, one key principle stands out:  “It’s our commitment to helping our community and doing a good job for our customers.”

Go Navy!