On Friday, September 9, 2016, Glen Lee Rhoades suddenly and unexpectedly passed on from this life. We lost a loving husband, a wonderful father, and a great classmate.
Glen, in his own words, “…came to West Point from Nebraska with a sense of humor and left with one.” His sense of humor stood him in good stead as he was assigned to Company H-2 at the far end of the “Lost Fifties.” His classmates described him in the class yearbook as follows: “Glen has been one of the sparkplugs of Happy-Two. Without his cheery laugh and practical jokes, life would certainly have been less enjoyable—although somewhat more sedate.” Glen was very active in the H-2 intramural athletic program and was particularly prominent in both soccer and lacrosse. First Class year he made lieutenant and became a highly respected platoon leader; however, he became most famous by buying a Studebaker sports car.
Upon graduation, Glen had chosen Infantry branch. While on leave after graduation, he met Mary Jo Lasell of Omaha, NE at his high school best friend’s wedding. It had to be love at first sight as, after Infantry Basic Course and successful completion of both Airborne and Ranger Schools, Glen and Mary Jo were married in Omaha. It was then on to Fort Campbell, KY and the 101st Airborne Division.
During this tour their first daughter, Nancy, was born. Orders then came for Alaska, “America’s Last Frontier,” where their second daughter, Pam, was born. Glen joined the 9th Infantry in Alaska, where he was designated a “ski team leader” because he was from Nebraska, where it snowed, whereas the other two lieutenants were from the South. Following a company command assignment, Glen was selected to attend the Armor Career Course at Fort Knox, KY, and then it was off to Vietnam.
Glen said it was in Vietnam that he learned his Airborne Ranger Shield might be “pierce-able.” While assigned as an advisor to a Vietnamese airborne battalion, Glen was riding in the back seat of a Jeep, with then Major Norman Schwarzkopf, when the Jeep overturned and landed on top of Glen, causing him severe neck injuries. It took six months of recovery, with many months in the hospital, before Glen convinced his assignment officer that it was time to go back to work.
After earning his master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, Glen was assigned to the “Juice” department at West Point. He was proud to have taught the “goat sections.” He then attended Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS.
Glen’s next post was to Korea to command an Infantry battalion. The folks in Korea, however, decided they needed a strong and experienced officer to take over a tactical signal battalion that was experiencing racial and drug problems. Working closely with his officers and NCOs, Glen was able to restore order and bring the battalion up to standards. It was truly a difficult challenge and one successfully completed.
Back in the States, Glen’s next assignment was to the Pentagon and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (ODCSOPS). There he came back in contact with Lieutenant General Tom Rienzi, who had been a well-known TAC officer at West Point during Glen’s time as a cadet. Assigned as Rienzi’s XO, there was plenty of opportunity for Glen to be convinced to branch transfer to the Signal Corps.
After his tour in the Pentagon, Glen was selected to attend the Naval War College. Although Glen didn’t know a battleship from a cruiser, he thrived. Then it was back to the DC area and the Defense Communications Agency, where Glen worked on the new World Wide Military Command and Control System.
Selected to the Army’s Acquisition Program Manager list, Glen’s last Army assignment put him at Fort Monmouth, NJ as Army Tactical Communications System program manager. Glen’s gregarious personality, ability to get the job done, and persistence in overcoming numerous obstacles resulted in the fielding of systems that went not only to the Army but to the Marines, Special Forces, and the Space Program.
After retirement in 1983, California beckoned with a job offer from Hughes Aircraft Company, where Glen served as program manager for highly classified programs involving mobile satellite systems. It was during a business trip to the DC area that Glen decided to test his Airborne Ranger shield once more. While traveling with several VIPs in a helicopter, the helicopter lost power and had to make an autorotation into a farmer’s field. The surprised farmer’s wife made coffee in her kitchen for the entire group while the local sheriff secured the helicopter. Glen’s Airborne Ranger shield worked this time.
Glen, Mary Jo—his wife of 58 years—and their daughters, Nancy and Pam, enjoyed the challenges they all faced together over the many years. Glen had a great work-life balance, a very positive outlook on life, and set a great example for others. He and his entire family were very proud to have had the opportunity to serve our great country.
— Mary Jo Rhoades, wife; Nancy Insprucker, daughter; and John Ramsden, classmate