GLEN D BATES - LCPL
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- March 07, 1948
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- November 02, 1967
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Glen D. Bates was born on March 7, 1948, at St. Michael's Hospital in Newark, NJ, and lived in Hazlet, NJ. Glen graduated from Raritan High School in Hazlet in 1966.
Glen joined the Marines and attained the rank of Lance Corporal (LCPL). He was killed in action on November 2, 1967.
"God Bless You, Glen. May your happy-go-lucky attitude bring you through the rough spots of your life." This was an inscription in Glen's senior yearbook by Mr. James Robbins, English Dept., Raritan High School, Hazlet, NJ.
And happy he was, smiling right up to the end. When Glen's father and mother went to see their son's body for the first time after being returned from Vietnam, they were struck by the smile on Glen's face. The funeral director told them that no one could have put that smile on Glen's face. It had to have been there. His parents concluded that Glen knew he was going to meet his maker, and he was prepared. He knew the Lord as his Savior, so he was just going from this life into life with Christ. He was nineteen years old.
When Glen was born, his parents, Albert and Evelyn, had to call a taxi to get to the hospital. It was snowing at the time and the roads were so slippery that they almost turned back at the bridge going into Newark. "In fact," said his mom, "Glen was almost born in the taxi."
Glen was a sweetheart of a baby. He could amuse himself with an oatmeal box and some clothespins. He had a very nice personality. His brother David was a year and a half older and as they grew up they became inseparable. "Of my two boys, Glen was the more friendly and outgoing. He said hi to everyone. I told him to be careful whom he talked to, but he still said hi to everybody. That was his personality" recalls his mom.
When the children were small, the family lived in Nutley, NJ. Their dad use to take them ice skating, swimming, to the park to play ball and also on family trips to Holiday Lake off Rt. 23. "I was always with the kids" said his dad, "when we moved to Hazlet, we use to go ice skating on the Navesink River."
Glen was a boy who could take care of himself. Although he was the younger brother, he was protective of David. When Glen was about three years old and David was about four and a half, they went out to play. Glen had a little red wagon and David had a tricycle. One of the neighborhood children was going to take David's tricycle and Glen got up and said, "You leave my brudder alone. You don't touch him." He was just a little fellow, but he was very protective of his brother.
Glen always wanted to right what was wrong. If anyone said anything against his family, he was going to take care of it. "We called him our loveable rebel. He never laid a hand on anyone, except in self-defense, but he let them know he could. He was a big lamb," said his dad.
The family moved to their new home in Hazlet, NJ, when Glen was about 10 years old. The area was still being developed. There were no trees or landscaping on the property, so the family would go out to the woods and find a tree, dig it up and replant it in the yard. Dad would put a piece of canvas over the roof of the car to transport the tree. The boys were into planting trees and other such hobbies. It kept them busy, they did it as a family and it worked out well for all of them.
When Glen was in grammar school, he was about 11 years old when he heard one of the students play an accordion during a recital. Glen came home very enthusiastic about wanting go play the accordion, "We rented a small concertina and he really enjoyed playing," said Glen's dad. Glen's parents decided to get him his own accordion. He was so happy, he was beside himself. When they were told it was in, "Oh, it was like someone was getting married, he was so excited. We had to go to the train station to pick it up," said his mom.
The deal was that if he got this accordion, he'd have to help pay for it. His parents told him they would pay for half the price of the accordion and for the lessons, but he would have to put something towards it because they wanted him to have an interest in what he was doing. Glen had a paper route with his brother. (In fact, they had three paper routes. Dad would help them on Sunday mornings.) Glen used his paper route money to pay for half the cost of the accordion.
"Glen would come into the kitchen," relates his mom, "and I'd ask him how he was doing with his lessons. He would run his fingers over the keys and make a quick sound. He never became a professional, but it was something that he liked."
His parents kept that accordion for a long time after Glen's death. It was difficult to part with. They became concerned that the bellows would rot from disuse, so they finally gave it to their pastor whose son was a missionary in Africa and could use it in his missionary work. Glen was very active in the youth group at church, so they were glad to donate it for a good cause.
It was important to Glen's parents to teach their sons the value of money. When they had their paper routes, they were glad to put a certain amount of their earnings aside. Both boys had a bank account. If they wanted to buy something, they would check to see if they had saved enough to make the purchase and then withdraw that amount from their bank account. It was a good experience for them to have the initiative to earn the extras they wanted.
The boys used to wrestle upstairs in their room and their mother would tell them that if they came through the ceiling, they were going to hear from her. Dad often joined in on the wrestling and recalls one day when they knocked the vacuum down the stairs and put a hole in the wall. All three of them got an earful from Mom.
Glen and his family had a very close relationship. When he came in from school, he would just plant a kiss and go upstairs. If he had something to discuss, he would come into his parent's bedroom and sit on the end of the bed and talk. "We talked openly about everything. That's how we taught the kids about sex, during those discussions when they would sit on the edge of the bed," remembered his mom.
One of the younger kids in the neighborhood, Dennis Sheehan, has vivid memories of Glen and his brother. "They were exceptional in every way. They were good students and incredibly kind and respectful to adults, and to us kids, who were their adoring fans," Sheehan remembers. He recalled a summer day when the big boys were playing ball in the street. Glen drove a shot right through the Sheehan's bathroom window. He quickly explained to Mrs. Sheehan what had happened and proceeded to clean up the glass and make a temporary repair by placing a piece of cardboard in the window. Later in the day when a repairman replaced the window, Glen was right there to pay for the repair. "This was a huge topic of discussion. My parents spoke to all of us about the example of taking personal responsibility," said Sheehan. The values that Glen and David were taught by their parents impacted and influenced even the younger children in the neighborhood.
At sixteen, Glen was hired at Tom McCann's Shoe Store. When the store closed, he went to Kinney's Shoes and worked there with his brother, Dave. They were saving money for college.
In June 1966, Glen graduated in the first class that was a full four years in Raritan High School. He was 6'2" tall with a strong, husky build. Glen applied to a college in New Mexico where his friend was going, but instead decided to go into the service.
Having been an Air Force man, Glen's father recommended he join the Air Force. He told Glen that at least he would know where he was going to sleep at night. Glen wanted infantry. He had wanted to sign up while he was still in high school, but he was not quite old enough without parental consent. His grandmother advised his mother not to sign for him because if anything happened, she might always blame herself. Glen's buddies would come over to the house and they would talk for hours about joining the service.
Glen went into the service in the Fall of 1966. When the letter of acceptance came from the college in New Mexico, Glen was already in Basic Training. This is what he wanted. His mind was set on the Marine Corps. He had signed up for four years active duty and two years reserve.
The day Glen and a friend were going to Newark to take their military physical exams, they decided to have a hearty breakfast with plenty of sugary cereal and bread and jam. Glen's blood sugar was extremely high and he failed that portion of the exam. He retook the physical the next week, after eliminating all sugar from his diet, and passed. He was the proudest kid ever. He was going to be a Marine. "I'll make you proud," he said to his parents.
Glen was sent to Vietnam in May 1967. When he got off the plane in Da Nang, he was already in combat gear. He was in combat the whole time he was there. Glen was very happy and proud when he was promoted from Private to Lance Corporal. His mother wrote to him every day, and he in turn, wrote many wonderful letters home.
In one heart wrenching letter home, written less than two months before he died, he described the horror of the war:
Dear Mom, Dad & Dave,
This letter is a very hard one for me to write. I have never felt so heavy-hearted as I do today.
Yesterday, September 15th, is a day that I'll never forget as long as I live.
It started off as a very cloudy and rainy day. Like most days, we all thought it would be just another day. But little did we know what we were in for. Today each one of us would spend time in hell, and some never to return again. At about 5:30 in the morning, we were on our way back from a patrol. All were tired and muddy. There was a bend in the road. When the patrol was half way through the bend is when all hell broke loose. The road was lined on both sides by Viet Cong. They opened up with everything they had. The sounds were awful. We never had a prayer in the world. Not so much as one chance. Only God knows what the thoughts of each man were. The patrol consisted of 14 men. Before the first 5 minutes were over, 6 were dead, and some wounded. The only way you can describe it would be, say, nightmare. I never fought so hard to live in all my life. All I can say is God was really with me. I'm just so tired of killing. Blood, guys missing a leg or arm. When will it ever end.
There's one favor I want to ask of you. Could you please tell Dave to get me another knife. Mine got lost that morning. But it did its job. If I didn't have it I wouldn't be here today. But I thank God I'm alright.
Well, I've got to go now. I'll be careful, I promise.
Your son and brother,
I love you all very much
P.S. Dad, how was your birthday?
Glen was killed on November 2, 1967, just a little over a year after joining the Marines in Dai Loc District, Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam. It was approximately 2:00 AM when a company of Viet Cong attacked Glen's position, on a hill called "Smokey." During this attack, the Viet Cong tossed a satchel of charged explosives into Glen's bunker causing his instantaneous death.
In a scene that has often been replayed in their minds throughout the years, Glen's parents recall the day they learned of Glen's death.
"We were sitting in the living room. It was a Saturday morning and a very sunny day. I saw a car pull up and saw a Marine Officer get out of the car. He came up the walk," Glen's mother recalled sadly. "It's Glen, I said, and he said yes. I just knew it."
The Marine told them that he rode around the block three times before he could come in. He told them it was an awful assignment but it was something that had to be done. He wanted to know if they needed someone else present, but they said no, they would be able to take it. "I was in shock at first," said Glen's mother, "then you say maybe it wasn't him." The next morning they went to church and as they got home, a telegram arrived confirming Glen's death.
David, Glen's brother, was in college when Glen died. He took it very bad. Everybody in the family gathered around and that was the best support he could get. Never does Glen's birthday go by that David doesn't think of him.
At one time, Glen talked with his parents about someday wearing "dress blues". They offered to buy the coveted uniform for him when he returned from Vietnam. He quickly let them know that you just don't buy the uniform, you have to earn it. When his body was brought home from Vietnam and his parents first saw him in the casket, they immediately noticed what he was wearing. Glen gave his life for his country, the ultimate sacrifice that a soldier can make, he had earned his "dress blues".
Years later, Glen's parents offered their collection of the Marine's Leatherback Magazines from the Vietnam Era to a Marine they had met at a memorial service at their church. When he went to their house to pick up the magazines, they showed him the display of the many medals and citations that their son had received. When he saw a picture of the hill called "Smokey" where Glen died, he turned around and started to cry.
Glen's mother reassured him that many people became emotional when they saw the display, but he explained that this was not why he cried. He recognized "Smokey" because he was one of the helicopter crew that went in and removed the bodies. It was so terrible, he said, and so useless to lose all those young fellows. It was such a coincidence that he had come to their home, but in some way it gave them closure.
Among the medals awarded to Glen posthumously were the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with V for valor, National Defense Service Medal, NJ Distinguished Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with the Silver Star, Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Military Merit Medal.
The Raritan Township Board of Education named the Hazlet High School library the Glen Bates Memorial Library. In addition, the board established the Glen S. Bates Memorial Award for Social Studies in honor of all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. The award is presented annually by the President of the Board of Education, in the form of a medallion, to the high school senior who has demonstrated the highest excellence in social studies and who, by his activities and efforts, has demonstrated his concern and commitment to these principles.
The New Monmouth Baptist Church established the Glen D. Bates Memorial Fund. This fund provides help for the children he learned to love while fighting in Vietnam. The funds were given to World Vision International, an interdisciplinary missionary service organization, working southeast Asia.
If Glen could give a message to future generations, his family feels it could best be summed up by a statement he made in a letter written to them while in Vietnam. "Freedom costs an awful lot, guard it with your life."
Sources: Albert and Evelyn Bates (parents), Joan Carew (volunteer) and NJVVMF.
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