J.E.: What branch of the military were you in, and did you volunteer or were you drafted?
J.M.: Marine Corps. And both. I was drafted, then I volunteered for the marines.
J.E.: How did they train you for the military?
J.M.: At San Diego, the boot camp took three months. It was nothing like you would see on TV. It was tough. After boot camp, don't ask me how, myself and a few other boys from my outfit were told we qualified for air wing of the marine corp. I didn't know anything about it. I'm not smart enough to be a pilot. I had no schooling and what little high school I did have I did not pay attention to. I decided I wanted to be in the action. Wanted to go and shoot somebody. I found out later that was really dumb. It was very brutal. They were blowin' and goin'! We had to learn how to fight with a knife in hand-to-hand combat. We were told how to kill someone with a knife; how to learn to live off the land, too.
J.E.: What battles did you serve in and what were they like?
J.M.: My first battle was at Quadlyna [in the Pacific Theater]. It lasted two days and we captured an enemy airfield, then we went back to Hawaii before heading to Saipan. That island was about the size of Howell County[where I live today]. There were about 50,000 Japanese. The combat was mostly colossal screw-ups. It was never like it is in the movies with all of the heroics; the side with the most equipment wins. That was in June of '44.
J.E.: Were you in the entire war?
J.M.: I was sent home with a medical discharge. I lost the hearing in my left ear. I got a Purple Heart for my combat injury.
Voice of Pride Editor's Note: Dan Leary, a retired professional living in the West Plains area, attended his first anti-war rally in January, 2003. He traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the largest anti-war rally[concerning Iraq] since the Vietnam War.
Q: Was there a time when you were not against war ?
A: Yes. Before Vietnam there was a time when I was not against war.
Q: Why protest now?
A: We always take a higher or imperialistic approach towards foreign affairs. We should do like President Carter did [in the Egyptian-Israeli conflict during the 1970s]. Have both sides get together and say what each of them want and come to an agreement.
Q: How do you feel specifically about the war on Iraq ?
A: Hussein and other Islamic nations hate us [the United States] because of our pro-Israel stand. Oil is our economy. We depend on the Muslim nations for most of our oil. So, that's how I feel.
Q: Without war, how can we stop a powerful dictator like Saddam Hussein ?
A: The war will cost around 200 billion dollars. With that we could keep inspectors longer and keep constant surveillance by plane. Hussein has had his weapons of mass destruction for about 11 years and never used them. About 4,000-5,000 Iraqi kids die daily due to U.S. sanctions. If that's not mass destruction then I don't know what is.
Q: Do you think it's to late to stop this war or is it inevitable?
A: I don't know. It's far-fetched, but it's not impossible.
Voice of Pride Editor's Note: Glenn Frey is a retired history teacher for the West Plains High School. His oldest daughter, Caitlin, serves as editor for the VOICE OF PRIDE, the West Plains Middle School Newspaper. She spoke with her father concerning his service to the Peace Corps from 1966-1968.
1966. Overseas the Vietnam War raged. But Glen Frey, old enough and healthy enough to be a soldier, is not in Vietnam. He's in Palau, serving as a Peace Corps member.
The Peace Corps, a federally supported organization founded by President Kennedy in 1962, had a main purpose to improve the overall living conditions of underdeveloped countries. That's exactly what Glenn Frey wanted to do in the name of the United States. Frey, now 59 years old, said, "I joined because I thought it was a worthwhile cause."
While in Palau he taught English as a second language and helped put in a new water system for the local village. He explained, "The old reservoir was down at the bottom of a hill right below the local cemetery. In that area they didn't embalm anybody and they get a lot of rain so theoretically all of that [human waste] was leaking into the water system. So we built a new reservoir and pumped it into the village."
The people that live on the island of Palau are Micronesians. Interestingly, Palau is a matriarchal society. This means that the older women from the village get together and decide which male inherits the land and works; but they control everything behind the scenes.
Frey was away from home for two years. "In that time I would get away for a couple weeks rest and recreation in Guam", he shared. " I'd watch movies and go to restaurants and such, although some of the movies were in Japanese." He also admits, "I did miss peanut butter and fresh bread, though." Once back to the states, he said that his mother broke down over how skinny he was. "She immediately started fattening me up with all sorts of things. I've been a little large ever since", he said smiling.
After some time passed, though, he started to miss some of the things about the island where he had served. "I miss being able to fish whenever I want. I miss being a 15 minute walk from 50 miles of totally unspoiled beach. Beautiful sunlit days and moonlit nights. And two beautiful white seabirds swooping up and down the green jungle hillside across the valley from my bedroom window."
There have been only a few thousand Peace Corps volunteers since its establishment in 1962.
Frey is proud to have been one of them. It was his way of serving his country when called to do so.