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thedrifter
11-30-08, 08:29 AM
November 30, 2008


Middlebrook veteran given military honor

By Trevor Brown/staff • tbrown@newsleader.com

MIDDLEBROOK — During Clarence Gleaton’s 17 years of active military duty in the Marines and Army, the local resident witnessed the end of World War II, flew helicopter missions in Vietnam, participated in the U.S. intervention during the 1958 Lebanon civil war and even had a mountain named after him following a deployment in Antarctica.

“My military career is kind of like the patterns on a Scottish plaid kilt,” he said. “It has a little bit of everything in it.”

Gleaton, 83, who reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 in the Army, was honored for his military service Saturday as part of the Freedom Team Salute program, which the Army began to thank its veterans.

In a reception with Gleaton and members of his family at his residence, Army Sgt. Russ Clarr, a Freedom Team Salute Ambassador, presented Gleaton with a plaque, pin and letter from the Secretary of the Navy.

“This program is a way to say thanks to our veterans,” Clarr said. “This is for those gentleman, who like me, didn’t get a parade when we came back from Laos in 1968.”

More than 1.3 million people have been awarded commendations through the program since its creation in 2005 by the Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army. Army veterans and the parents, spouses and employers of Army soldiers are eligible for the recognition.

Gleaton, who teared up slightly during the presentation, said the recognition helped diminish some of the bitter feelings he had when he left active duty service.

“After Vietnam I really felt disillusioned by the Army,” he said. “I mean I loved the Army, but with all the politics and the time away from my family and girls, it was tough.”

Gleaton’s military career began in 1943 when he enlisted with the Marines and served in Asia during the conclusion and aftermath of World War II. After leaving the Marines for a short period, Gleaton enlisted in the Army and attended the Army Jump School with the 82nd Airborne Division. Assignments led him to Germany, Lebanon, Korea and Vietnam.

Perhaps the most exotic of Gleaton’s tours was the several months his Army unit provided helicopter support for the U.S. Geological Survey mapping program in Antarctica. Gleaton would find out after the assignment, while serving in Vietnam, that the Geological Survey honored Gleaton for his work by naming a mountain after him.

“Before we came there, there was only estimates of locations and altitudes of geographical landmarks there,” he said. “So basically we would land on 50 or 60 mountains and use information to get the precise data that is used on maps even now.”

Ellie