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My Books

This is the post excerpt.

I have been writing since I was six years old. I now have five novels and seventeen stories in print. Adelaide Books in New York published my latest novel, Secretocracy, in March 2020. It will bring out my newest collection of short stories, Coming to Terms, in July 2020

My first published book, Friendly Casualties, was a novel in short stories derived from experiences in the thirteen years I trundled between the U.S. and Vietnam to provide signals intelligence support to U.S. Army and Marine combat units fighting in South Vietnam. The first half of the book is a series of short stories in which characters from one story reappear in another. The second half is a novella that draws together all the preceding tales.

No-Accounts came from my years of caring for AIDS patients. It tells the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. I got into helping men with AIDS to help me cope with the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. When I was with my patients, men suffering more than I was, my unbearable memories went dormant.

Next came The Trion Syndrome. It begins with the Greek Trion legend about a demigod so brutal to the vanquished that the gods sent the Eucharides, three female monsters, to drown him. The protagonist, Dave Bell, is haunted by half-remembered visions of the war in Vietnam. At his lowest point, he recalls that he killed a child. Dave considers suicide, but a young man appears and helps him. It is his illegitimate son, a child he had tried to kill through abortion, who now helps him find his way home.

Last of the Annamese was published in March 2017. I used this novel to confront my memories of the fall of Saigon from which I escaped under fire. Once again, the image of the boy-child recurs, as the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, a retired Marine, grieves over the loss of his son, killed in combat in Vietnam. He returns to Vietnam as a civilian intelligence analyst after the withdrawal of U.S. troops and encounters Vietnamese boys whom he tries to save during the conflagration.

Secretocracy, published in March 2020, tells the story of an federal intelligence budgeteer persecuted by the Trump administration because he refuses to approve finds for an illegal operation. Coming to Terms, due out in July 2020, is a new collection of short stories about people trying to work through the downturns in their lives.

 

The Tom Glenn High School

I’m periodically reminded by notifications from the internet that there is a school by my name, Tom Glenn High School. It’s in Leander, Texas. It opened in 2016. It’s named after the previous superintendent of the Leander School District, Tom Glenn.

My full name is Thomas Louis Glenn III. My father and grandfather were both named Thomas Louis Glenn. Neither of them were men I want to be like, but I’m stuck with them as predecessors with my name.

I don’t think of Tom Glenn as being a common name, but apparently it is. I regularly stumble across other men with that name, including an author. His book is P-47 Pilots: The Fighter-Bomber Boys published by the Zenith Press in 1998. And every once in a while, another Tom Glenn surfaces in the news.

So much for being unique.

Choose Democracy

I have just joined an organization I discovered on line. It’s called Choose Democracy. You can find it at https://choosedemocracy.us/ Here is its pledge:

1.         We will vote.

2.         We will refuse to accept election results until all the votes are counted.

3.         We will nonviolently take to the streets if a coup is attempted.

4.         If we need to, we will shut down this country to protect the integrity of the democratic process.

The group is obviously opposing Trump’s threat to ignore the election results and maintain his hold on the White House. That would constitute a coup d’etat. Since the Republicans have not denounced Trump’s expressed intent to ignore the election results, the rest of us have to gear up to remove Trump by force if it comes to that.

I never thought I’d see the day when we Americans would be calling for the forced removal of a defeated president attempting a coup. So this is what Trump has brought us to.

Dak To

In 1967, I was in Vietnam’s western highlands supporting the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade with signals intelligence—the intercept and exploitation of the radio communications of North Vietnamese forces throughout South Vietnam. I and a team of army specialists I had trained myself monitored the communications of enemy units in the area, and we received the results of similar efforts throughout South Vietnam. Most important, we were supported by my employer, the National Security Agency, back in the states.

I won’t tell the full story of that battle here—you can read it in my article published in 2017 in the New York Times. It’s at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/opinion/vietnam-tet-offensive.html

My team and I, through intercept and analysis, followed the North Vietnamese B3 Front, its subordinate 1st Division, two independent regiments, the 24th and the 33rd, and several unidentified units. They were operating out of sight in the mountains to our west along the border with Cambodia and Laos. They wanted to control that area because it was the site of the Ho Chi Minh trail, the secret route that North Vietnam used to infiltrate troops into South Vietnam. From listening in on their communications, I knew they were planning to attack American forces.

The end result was one of the bloodiest battles in the Vietnam war. More than 2,100 North Vietnamese were killed, as were 376 Americans and 61 South Vietnamese soldiers. And in the long term, Americans abandoned the area, and the North Vietnamese again occupied it.

The battle of Dak To is meaningful to me for several reasons, but the most important is that men I cared about were killed by my side. I’ve written before in this blog about the bond that forms between men who fight side by side. We don’t call it love because men are not supposed to love one another. But love is what it is, the strongest love I’ve ever experienced. To this day I grieve over those who died next to me. They were kids, nineteen years old. And they died in ways so brutal that we were hard put to find enough of them left to put in a body bag.

Some wounds to the soul are never healed.

The Glory of Autumn

Despite the cooling weather, I still spend as much time as I can on my deck overlooking the pond behind and to the north of my house. I am astonished by the glory of the trees on all sides of me as their leaves change hue. I am surrounded by the colors of fall, ranging from the normal shades of green, from pale to deep, to vivid yellows, oranges, and reds. It is a riot of colors displayed in deep silence against a sky of vibrant blue. Except for a slight breeze now and then, it is a show of static glory.

This extravagant yet humble display reminds me of my own insignificance. I can neither alter nor add to nor detract from the glory before me. It exists indifferent to me. Whether I live or die, it will go on in its magnificence. What I can do or be or feel is trivial by comparison.

Sometimes the splendor of nature offers us a lesson on our own miniscule importance.

Conversation

A couple of days ago, a man who follows my blog asked to come to my home for a conversation. I was impressed that a someone who reads what I write day to day wanted to meet me face to face.

When he arrived, I greeted him masked. He was masked, too. For the next two hours we talked, sitting six feet from one another.

Several aspects of our interchange impressed me. He is a well-educated, well-read man who has followed my blog posts. He had researched my history. As a result, he knew a great deal about me. I knew nothing about him until he informed me. I learned that he is young enough to be my son, old enough to have adult children. He is fascinated by history and recalls facts and figures far beyond my ken.

Because he knew so much about me, I listened more than I talked. Among other things, he expressed confidence that younger folks—the age of his adult children—are savvy enough to defeat Trump in November. Neither of us know whether the election will be close or a landslide in favor of Biden, but we’re both sure Trump will be defeated. He’s more confident than I am that Trump will be removed by force if need be.

What impressed me the most about our conversation was that I learned from listening to him. He is a man wise beyond his years. And I am the beneficiary.

A New Wave

Reports in the media indicate that a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic is about to hit us. With the weather cooling and more people gathering indoors, conditions favoring more and more transmissions are growing. In the U.S., we’re approaching nine million infections, and we’ll soon have suffered 230,000 deaths.

And the Trump administration still has done nothing to mitigate the pandemic. Trump dismissed it early, then said it would disappear, and now—as the figures grow worse daily—says things are getting better. Trump continues to hold rallies with people jammed together, mostly not wearing masks, as if taunting the virus and daring it to attack.

One of my associates died from covid-19. Another is sick with it. For seven months, I have isolated myself from all human contact because, as an older man with a history of lung cancer, I’m a prime target for the disease, and it would likely prove fatal to me. Now it looks like my isolation will last until next summer, thanks to the failure of the Trump administration to take even one step to combat the disease.

I fault the Trump administration for many crimes against the American people, but this is the worst: failure to address a pandemic that has sickened over eight million of us and killed almost 230,000.

Can we correct this national failure by voting against Trump in November?

Leadership

I’ve written several times in this blog about the need for leadership versus management in just about any endeavor you can think of. I was lucky to have learned early in my career that, in terms of results or outcomes, leadership works and management mostly doesn’t. Leadership encourages followers to be the best that they can be, to achieve beyond expectations. Management strives to keep them under control and avoid rebellious behavior. Management is for things; leadership is for people.

While fulfilling my military obligation right out of college, I was fortunate to work under commanders who led, challenging me to use all my capabilities to accomplish goals far beyond the norm. As soon as I had subordinates, I followed suit and urged my people to outdo themselves. I was so successful that I was promoted rapidly and moved up the chain of command until I reached the upper executive ranks.

Over the years, I came to appreciate that the U.S. military, especially the Marines, understood very well that leadership works and management doesn’t. I worked constantly with the military all during the Vietnam years and relied on leadership to accomplish my goals. It never failed me.

So why, I have to ask, do we Americans so often fail to lead and try instead to manage?

I don’t know the answer to my question, but I have some indications. We Americans pride ourselves on our rugged individualism. We celebrate our one-by-one personal achievements rather than what we accomplish as a team or group. That makes us unlike foreign cultures I have known which emphasize teamwork and goals reached only by everyone working together.

It’s long since time that we matured as a nation learned to value leadership and teamwork and put aside our emphasis on controlling people. Let’s learn to be the best that we can be.

Hair. Again.

Some weeks ago, I wrote here about my hair and how long it’s getting. Now it’s worse. I haven’t been to a barber since February. I’m able to trim my beard, mustache, and sideburns, but the hair on the back of my head just keeps getting longer. It’s long enough now that I could, if I wanted to, gather it into an unbraided pigtail and secure it with a rubber band—a topknot but on the back of my head. Or maybe a male ponytail.

I am being more careful than most during the pandemic because I would be so vulnerable if I were infected with covid-19—an older man with a history of lung cancer. So, since March, I’ve avoided contact with other human beings and animals. It hasn’t been too bad because I’m a loner by nature, like many writers. That said, I feel a hankering for company, especially women. Meanwhile, my hair keeps growing. And growing. And growing.

I’ve not had a haircut for the better part of a year and won’t until it’s safe to congregate. That could be next summer or even longer. By then, I suppose, my hair will be down to my shoulders.

I wonder if I ought to see about giving myself a permanent.

Time to Vote

I call upon all readers of this blog to vote in this year’s national election. It is the most crucial election in our lifetime. The fate of our nation is literally at stake.

As Americans, we are privileged to be expected to govern ourselves. We are given the gift of self-determination. We are blessed with the right to choose.

But with privilege comes obligation. It is our duty to vote and choose our leaders. If we fail to fulfill our calling and don’t act to select our government, we invite authoritarians to exploit us.

So I urgently call upon all my readers: vote. Don’t fail. Your country depends on you.

My Correspondent

As I have reported before in this blog, I communicate regularly with a man in prison. We’ve been exchanging letters for over three years. We got started when he read one of my books and wrote to me. We’ve been corresponding regularly ever since.

What this man and I have in common is Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). We both survived combat in Vietnam. We both marvel at how few Americans have any notion at all of what combat is and what damage it can inflict on the human psyche.

Living through combat darkens the soul. The unfading memories of fellow combatants killed in unspeakable ways leave their mark forever. We are damaged men.

But we have each other. Each of us knows that there is at least one other man alive in the world today who knows what it’s like to face death on the battlefield.

We are not alone.