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Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembering Glen

Receiving Glen's medals: Doris and Tommy Chenault, on right.
The young woman is Valna Sauer Cox, who was engaged to Glen.
I remember a young man named Robert Glen Chenault, a dark-haired boy with glasses, about fifteen years older than me, who went to our church and did some work for my parents, both at our print shop and at home.
Glen's parents, Tommy and Doris, were good friends of my parents; for a while, when I was a baby, we lived across the street from them, on Wheless Avenue. The Chenaults were a little bit older than my parents, and I’m sure the couple was a big help to my parents as they were new to Kerrville, and also new to parenting.
Tommy worked in the grocery business, coming to Kerrville with Evans Foods (as did my father), and later working for H-E-B, back when the H-E-B was on the corner of Water and Quinlan streets, back when it faced Quinlan. Tommy was a kind man that always had a smile. He passed away in the early 1980's.
Doris worked for Brehmer's Jewelers, which, in those days, was beside Pampell's. I remember Doris showing me some replicas of world famous gems -- like a replica of the Hope Diamond -- on a little felt pad there at the store, me gawking at the size of the fake stones. For a while they inspired me to be an amateur geologist, hoping to find a diamond in the dusty bluff behind the print shop, down by the river where the snakes lived. Doris died in 2005.
But Glen, memories about Glen -- that is what I'm writing about today.
Looking back, Glen was just a kid, though I didn't realize it at the time. He was a recent Tivy graduate. He played around with a ukulele. He once helped me kill a green "rattlesnake" in our backyard -- or, rather, dispatched a grass snake that I had injured in my childish terror of snakes. He let me win at checkers. He was the kind of teenager that little kids just naturally look up to, want to follow around. He was a good guy.
I also remember Glen, the young marine, heading to Vietnam, arriving in the field just days before the Tet Offensive, only 21 when he died fighting for his country. He had been in Vietnam 46 days when he was killed in the Quang Nam Province of what was then South Vietnam. He was killed on the very first day of the Tet Offensive.
My father was asked by Doris and Tommy to identify Glen's body when it arrived back home. He told me that task was one of the toughest things he'd ever done. Dad was about 10 years older than Glen, and they had spent many hours working together at the print shop.
Glen is buried by his father and mother at the Garden of Memories Cemetery, on the road to Fredericksburg.
This Memorial Day causes me to remember Glen especially, my boyhood hero, the brave young soldier that didn’t come back. Each time I visit the Cailloux Theater, I stop to look at the names carved in the stone wall at the center of the foyer, looking for a long time at young Glen’s name. Each of the names carved there represents a great loss, a missing part of our community.
It's hard sometimes to remember the soldiers listed there, killed in long-ago wars, were mostly very young men.
Each was once a talking, living, laughing person that left behind memories, and while I only have personal memories of one of the many soldiers named on that ivory-colored wall, each lived a story that ended too soon, a story that included family and friends now alone.
Monday we’ll stop to remember them, their young lives filled with promise, their bravery and sacrifice.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 23, 2015.

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