Glaster served in Vietnam with Hawk missile unit

Note: This article appeared in the Oct. 14 edition of the “Redstone Rocket.” This article was written by “Redstone Rocket” editor Skip Vaughn and reprinted by permission. (skip.vaughn@theredstonerocket.com)

MADISON – Birmingham native William Glaster received his draft notice as a senior at Brighton High School. After graduating in 1972, he entered the Army on the delayed entry program.

College wasn’t an option. His mother raised seven children. Glaster was the oldest son. He never knew his father.

Glaster completed basic training at Fort Polk, La. and advanced individual training in the Honest John rocket system at Fort Sill, Okla. He spent his entire 22-year military career in the missile field.

He then deployed to Vietnam. “For a young man leaving Alabama and not knowing what’s happening, it was a little scary,” he said.

Glaster served with 6th Battalion, 71st Artillery (Hawk missile). The 18-year-old private was a gunner with the air defense unit in III Corps in Long Binh. He also spent about five months with a personnel recovery team in Hanoi.

Midway into his tour, the 30-member air defense unit had to fend off three nighttime attacks. Fortunately, they held their base.

His primary memories from Vietnam are “being scared all the time. Probably getting shot at and bullets going by you and just saying ‘I’m glad I didn’t get hit.’”

Returning home, Glaster encountered protesters after landing at the Los Angeles airport in June 1973. They were called “baby killers.” “Being young (19 years old), it was more so like ‘Whatever.’ Just glad to be home.”

Glaster retired in 1994 as a First Sergeant at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. He earned Vietnam service ribbons, Army Achievement Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals and Honorable Order of St. Barbara from field artillery school association.

After military service, Glaster worked 24 years for defense contractors, including 14 years with Trax’s International. He retired in 2018 and left White Sands for Madison.

Glaster’s oldest son, Tony, and youngest son, Jeremiah, live in Birmingham. His middle son, Deion, drowned in 1995 in Birmingham. Daughter Sachiko-Glaster Brown lives in Dallas, Texas. Glaster has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“Softball is my main hobby,” the 66-year-old said. He plays in 55-and-over Rockets league in Huntsville Senior Softball. He also runs and works out.

Glaster participates with Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He has a 60-percent disability rating from Veterans Affairs.

Glaster believes that schools should include the Vietnam War in the curriculum “I mean … they teach about World War I and World War II but let’s not forget about the Vietnam War. We lost more than in World War I and World War II. Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters that never came home,” he said.

 

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