Ward Served In WW2, Korea
“I’ve seen my share of the world,” says military veteran Glenn Ward. Having served in both World War II and the Korean War, the Warfordsburg area native logged his miles through the sea as well as by air as a member of the United States Navy and Air Force.
The middle child of nine born to Charles and Ruie (Hendershot) Ward, Glenn continues to reside in the Hendershot Road, Warfordsburg, home he was born in 85 years ago. That alone is a feat in the Buck Valley area where many families have since sold off their homesteads.
Back in those days, he recalls sleeping three to a bed in the Union Township residence, which included two rooms downstairs and four on the second floor. Glenn stated they lived off the farm, used what was readily available to them and selected simple treasures, such as sugar, from the huckster wagon that stopped by weekly.
Only one month after turning 17, Glenn enlisted with the United States Navy. He recalls that day in February 1945 when he and two other young men from the area departed to begin their military service. Two volunteered for the Navy, according to their enlistment orders, while the third fellow was drafted by the United States Army.
“When I went up that 25- or 30-foot ladder, it looked like it was a mile down to the water,” said Glenn, who unfortunately sunk straight to the bottom and was fished out by a long pole. After the fourth-straight night of testing he received a passing grade.
Assigned to the destroyer USS Adams DM-27 docked in San Francisco, Calif., Glenn logged 53,400 sea miles, the equivalent of two trips around the world. The destroyer made port in 19 locations, including Bermuda, Pearl Harbor, Guam, Nagoya, Sasebo, Kagoshima and Kirun. He even spent Christmas of 1945 in Shanghai where the sailors were treated to a turkey dinner that rivaled any holiday meal from back home.
While onboard, Glenn said he was careful to select a job that would give him ample free time while still doing something he enjoyed. After narrowing down the choices from cleaner to KP, Glenn set his sights on a cook’s position that allowed him one day of work followed by two days off. He served 424 fellow sailors on the midnight-to-midnight 24- hour shift.
“That was the easiest job for me. I loved it,” he said. “Although we always hoped for a little bit of bad weather because we couldn’t keep the food in the pots. We would give everyone K-rations, which had a candy bar, cigarette and everything else you’d need to last the day.”
Glenn stated the cooks typically had to work with frozen food. Those items were transferred between ships using a rope.
Still afraid of being on the water, the sea brought many perils for Glenn and fellow members of the United States Navy. From stormy weather to enemy planes, Glenn witnessed it all and is lucky to be alive today.
In the midst of a typhoon that was “worse than the war itself,” Glenn said the ship pitched or rolled 47 degrees. Fortunately, the USS Adams didn’t capsize like many of its counterparts that took countless sailors to the bottom of the sea.
“One time we spent 45 days at sea,” stated Glenn. “I thought the enemy had blown all of the land clear away.”
Suicide bombers posed a threat as well. In fact, the USS Adams went down in history as the second ship in U.S. Navy history to travel rudderless. Reports indicate the destroyer’s steering gear went out of commission when the ship was struck by a Japanese suicide plane in Okinawa. In spite of the damage sustained, the ship travelled more than 7,000 miles back to San Francisco using only the ship’s engines for steering.
“Suicide planes had only enough fuel for one way. The pilots were sealed inside, and their only choice was to crash into a ship or straight into the sea,” said Glenn.
History also indicates the USS Adams was the flag ship for the 7th Fleet and laid mines in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. Following the war, the ship would sweep the channels for the magnetic mines. Glenn noted the ship was also the second ship from the battleship Missouri when General MacAruthur signed the peace treaty.
In 1946, Glenn was sent back to Fulton County with the rank of third-class petty officer having earned a Victory Medal and Pacific and American Theater ribbons. It should also be noted that Glenn’s brother Claude was also in service during World War II.
At the time, places such as Korea and Vietnam were far from his mind, but at the age of 22 Glenn transferred to the Air Force as a corporal. His other brothers, Richard and Dane, were also called into service for the Korean War.
Having dodged basic training, Glenn spent time in Texas and then Mississippi where he attended radar and radio operator school. His stateside service during the Korean War eventually took him to Fort Bragg, N.C., and to various locations across the United States as he helped haul supplies by plane.
It was during that same time Glenn began courting Bonnie Shaw, a young lady from “downtown” Warfordsburg. After a while he managed to steal her heart and drive away other potential suitors, a move he hasn’t regretted one day since the couple married 58 years ago.
After his discharge from the military in 1951, Glenn left behind both the air and sea and took up his travels on solid ground. He’s driven for several companies, including Baker Driveway and Anchor Motors, where he hauled General Motors vehicles and logged 4 million miles.
Those miles, however, don’t compare to the joy and satisfaction he has gained since retiring in 1990. With his wife and three of their four sons, Eugene, Denny, Randy and Wayne, hauling area children to and from school, Glenn took over the operation of handling daily bus routes as well as extracurricular routes.
The hours logged behind the wheel of a Southern Fulton School District bus have earned him the name “Pappy” from current students and graduates alike. To those who know him well and understand his penchant for travel, regardless of the means, it is certainly no surprise Glenn doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon.