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Memorial Day

Military service had lasting influence on local veterans

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Two local veterans say military service and their time with their comrades changed their lives forever.

Glyde Marsh, 94, a retired Ohio State University professor and poultry veterinarian who has served on New Albany City Council since 1994, is a World War II veteran.

Ed Gaydos, 68, a senior vice president of leadership and organizational development for The Limited who retired in 2007, served in Vietnam.

They agreed to interviews with ThisWeek in advance of Memorial Day on Monday, May 27, when the nation honors those who died during military service.

 

Overseas during World War II

Marsh said he was put on active duty in July of 1940 after graduating from Ohio State's ROTC program.

Marsh served four and a half years in the army and trained in artillery. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

He said he heard President Franklin D. Roosevelt declare war on a radio -- the only radio in the field company office, which was in a building with 21 floors.

"There were no cell phones, no iPads," Marsh said. "There was one radio on a chair in the doorway of the barbershop. We all ran down from 21 floors and listened."

His first brush with death came when he and a friend decided to become paratroopers.

Marsh said he was rejected because he was too tall and too skinny. His friend became a paratrooper and was killed in Holland.

"That was one of my lucky breaks," he said.

Marsh said his second "lucky break" came when he was serving as a military police lieutenant in London.

He was caught in an air raid while riding through London in the back seat of a car. He said the driver told him he had been hit.

"It was only a scratch on my arm," Marsh said. "I never felt anything. It was shrapnel. It hit me in the arm and went through my clothes into the muscle of my forearm."

The work in Europe was trying, he said, protecting Americans who were living abroad and helping in the aftermath of air raids.

"You saw some of the nasty parts of humanity," he said.

Marsh recalled one disturbing event that occurred when he was on patrol with another officer and a bomb killed 490 people in a chapel.

"When the bomb hit, it knocked both of us off of our feet," he said.

Once they got back on their feet, a Canadian sergeant asked them to help his captain, a medical officer. They went to the back of the chapel to find the captain waving his arms in a frenzy.

In front of him was the perfectly preserved body of a young woman whose head had been crushed by a two-by-four-foot piece of limestone from the chapel walls.

"It knocked the socks off of him," Marsh said. "It disturbed several of us to look at her. I'll never forget seeing her."

Even though Marsh said experiences such as that were not pleasant, he supports military service for many reasons.

"It does a lot of people a lot of good. It did me," he said. "I have no regrets about it. I think all people should go through the military."

Marsh met his wife, Margaret, while she was coordinating a dance for the USO. They were married 53 years until Margaret died of cancer in 1995.

Marsh has lived in New Albany since 1946.

 

Growing up fast in Vietnam

Gaydos said he was studying for his master's degree in philosophy at St. Louis University when he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.

He started basic training March 17, 1969, and went through non-commissioned officers' school before training in artillery and being sent to Vietnam in April 1970.

Gaydos served two years in the U.S. Army.

"From April of 1970 to March of 1971, I was stationed at a small, little fire base, called Landing Zone Sherry," Gaydos said. "We had five howitzers and, when counted, all of 110 guys on a 2-acre spot."

Gaydos said he was ranked as a specialist five at Landing Zone Sherry, which, he said, saw more action than any other base in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Like Marsh, he escaped serious injury and said none of his men died in action. The last death in Landing Zone Sherry occurred two weeks before Gaydos arrived.

"While I was there, a number of guys got wounded from mortar and rocket attacks," he said.

Gaydos said the constant shelling stripped many of his emotions. He said it took him five months to recover when he returned home.

"What happens to you when you're in a situation where people shoot at you relentlessly, is you develop a hardness and coldness," he said. "Many of your emotions go dormant. You don't feel emotions, like compassion or sympathy.

"You lose a lot of your natural fears because you can't walk around being afraid all the time. You're scared to death for a month and you get tired of being scared all the time so you get kind of hard and kind of cold."

Gaydos went back to his college life after he left the service in 1971, receiving his master's in vocational psychology and his doctorate in industrial psychology from the University of Missouri.

While on campus, he said he endured protests about the war.

"I encountered a lot of the scorn that just about every other guy did," Gaydos said. "That was the hard part of (the Vietnam War). That was the attitude of civilian population."

Despite the controversy, Gaydos, like Marsh, said military service was a positive part of his life.

"In my case, it was not a demon, it was a great education," he said. "It helped me grow up a little faster than I normally would have. It gave me some maturity."

Gaydos said he recounted many of the stories about his war life to his three children and nieces and nephews, before eventually writing them down.

Comparing the experiences to the popular television show M.A.S.H., Gaydos wrote a book called Seven in a Jeep: A Memoir of the Vietnam War.

The collection of short stories was published by Columbus Press.

Gaydos said his book recounts some of the crazy ideas his men had, like the man who told the Army he dropped his M-16 weapon in the latrine during a mortar attack. The waste in the latrines was burned every two days, Gaydos said.

Because the weapon was considered lost, the soldier decided to take it apart and mail in back home in pieces, wrapped in tin foil to deceive officers screening packages.

Gaydos said he discouraged the man because it was illegal to have a fully-automatic weapon in the states. But he later learned the soldier was successful and he often imagined the gun hanging above a fireplace mantel.

"That's just the kind of daily stuff that happens in a fire base that's made up mostly of teenagers, two-thirds (of whom) didn't have high school degrees," he said.

He's working on a second book about leadership, much of which he said he learned from the military.

"I'm working on my second book, which includes information on how the military influenced me later in life and in my career," Gaydos said. "As an executive, I don't know how many times I went back to the leaders I had in the military and the good and bad lessons I drew from that and how it shaped my approach to people and leadership."

Gaydos, a native of Missouri, moved to New Albany in 2000 when he took a job with The Limited.

 

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