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.
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!