View Full Version : Nearly 6 decades later, WWII vet fulfills promise

06-06-03, 06:09 AM
Nearly 6 decades later, WWII vet fulfills promise
By JOHN HOPKINS, The Virginian-Pilot
June 5, 2003

It was a promise made 59 years ago by two soldiers about to face death in World War II.

Stanley Glasser, a native of Norfolk's Berkley section, was a 29-year-old supply sergeant in the 29th Division, 111th Field Artillery Unit. Fred Ogle, who grew up near Nashville, Tenn., was a 25-year-old first sergeant in the unit.

The two men, who had become friends in the service, were part of the June 1944 invasion of Normandy and drive to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.

``We promised if anything was to happen to one of us, we would visit the other's family after the war, bring them his belongings and tell them how he died,'' Ogle said.

This week, Ogle finally kept the promise -- six decades after Glasser was killed by a land mine. With the help of friends, Ogle was able to locate Glasser's family in Norfolk.

The 84-year-old veteran, slowed by age, traveled from Florida to meet with the family and give them a photo of Glasser taken the day before the D-Day invasion.

At Mikro Kodesh Cemetery in Chesapeake, where Stanley Glasser is buried next to his parents, Ogle stood by his old friend's grave and saluted.

``I had to come,'' he said before flying back to his home in Port Charlotte, Fla. ``I came because I promised him I would. We were buddies. We were soldiers.''

Ogle talked with 23 members of the family on Monday, recounting events that led to Stanley Glasser's death. They talked before and after dinner and late into the night.

``I think it's been a terrific healing and closure for us,'' said 88-year-old Rose Frances Glasser, a sister-in-law who was born a few days before Stanley Glasser in 1914. They both attended Maury High School in Norfolk.

She recalls the family's pain after receiving a telegram that Stanley Glasser had died just two months before his 30th birthday. He was one of five boys in a family of 10 children.

Glasser was killed Sept. 10, 1944, as troops pushed forward in northern France. He was traveling with three other soldiers in a jeep when it set off a land mine, Ogle said. All four were killed.

Ogle, who was also in the area, talked with Glasser shortly before his death.

As a forward observer, Ogle's job was to set up gun positions along the front lines. American troops suffered massive casualties, said Ogle.

``When you move forward that's when men get killed,'' he said. ``They fell one after the other. It was terrible.''

After the war, Ogle returned home to his wife. The conflict ended his hopes of a career as a professional baseball pitcher. He tore his rotator cuff throwing a hand grenade during a battle.

He went to work for Western Union.

For years, Ogle wanted to find the Glasser family. He had allowed decades to pass but felt an urgent need to keep his word.

With the help of a friend, the Rev. Bob Carlson of Port Charlotte, and others, Ogle searched.

``Many times Fred would talk about Stanley and cry and just say, `He was such a good friend, and I let him down because I didn't go to see his family,' '' Carlson said. ``He even made the statement, `There's just one more thing I need to do before I die.' ''

Ogle remembered that Glasser was from Virginia but wasn't sure about the spelling of his name. They started researching about 80 names and phone numbers in Virginia, calling on weekends. No luck.

In May, a computer search with the proper spelling led to Rose Frances Glasser, who lives in Norfolk.

``He called me and I couldn't talk,'' she said. ``I lost my voice . . .''

Stanley Glasser's surviving family members, including nieces, nephews and their spouses, gathered at a family member's home on Monday to listen to the old soldier. They knew it was more than a war story, said nephew Michael A. Glasser.

``It's about a promise kept,'' he said. ``No matter how long.''

Reach John Hopkins at 222-5221 or john.hopkins@pilotonline.com