After working on it for several years, lifetime Arcadia resident and Vietnam War veteran Gene Glasco’s magnanimous effort to recognize his peers from Arcadia who were killed or missing-in-action during that war was completed when his Arcadia Vietnam War Monument was unveiled and dedicated Saturday, May 28, 2016.
Few were aware during the ceremony or the intense final weeks of work leading to Memorial Day weekend that Glasco has been enduring daily radiation treatments for the Agent Orange cancer he contracted decades ago, a remnant of the war that continues to wreak havoc on thousands of surviving in-country Vietnam veterans.
In a sad bit of irony, Glasco’s cancer that resulted from the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military in Vietnam had been in remission for 12 years but returned just a couple months before his tribute to his fallen and missing comrades. He began six weeks of the external beam radiation therapy in mid-April that was physically draining at the worst possible time as it continued five days a week through the dedication ceremony of his altruistic endeavor and up through today, June 6, 2016.
The monument along Huntington Drive near the peacock fountain at the corner of Santa Anita Avenue in Los Angeles County’s Arcadia Park across from the Elks Lodge features a bronze plaque noting the names of fourteen Arcadia servicemen killed or missing in hostile actions while fighting the war in Vietnam from 1967 – 1974. That plaque is under insignias of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The ceremony was part of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s annual Salute to Veterans and their Families in the park. Retired Brigadier General Emory “Jack” Hagan III, Commanding General California State Reserve and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony for the Monument.
“Three high school classmates and I went to Vietnam within a year of each other,” said Glasco, “tragically, two of them never came home.”
The ceremony ended with a 21-gun-salute, the playing of Taps, as well as a performance of “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes by Boy Scout Daniel Black.
Gene enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1967 and served for six years. He spent eighteen months in-country Vietnam as a Radioman with and in support of “Brown Water Navy” patrols and enemy interdiction on the rivers and canals in the Mekong Delta.
Story continues below the following video featuring highlights of Glasco’s Navy experiences, produced in July 2008…
One of Glasco’s high school classmates, Eugene Hicks, was an Army Infantryman who began his tour of duty in Vietnam on December 3, 1967. A little more than one month later he was killed in action on January 16, 1968.
“I returned home from Vietnam but (Eugene) didn’t,” Glasco said. “Building a monument in his honor is the least I can do for (Eugene) and fellow Arcadians who lost their lives in South Vietnam.”
Many Arcadians may also be unfamiliar with Glasco’s multi-faceted background. The man who was elected in April to his second term as City Clerk, is a 1966 graduate of Arcadia High School, where he lettered in Junior Varsity football and played second trombone in the AHS Marching Band. He continues to live in the north Arcadia Highlands home his family moved to in 1954 from Los Angeles. That home is near the Highland Oaks Elementary school he attended.
After his military service, Gene worked in the travel industry for a few years, eventually owning and operating a busy travel agency in Los Angeles before making a career change to the food service industry for the next 30 years or so. After working for a major distributor in Los Angeles; a manufacturer of margarines and salad dressings in Garden Grove; and becoming a partner at multi-million dollar inter-state food brokerage firm Kelley-Clarke (former Arcadia Mayor Charles Gilb’s nationwide distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables CEG Company was among Glasco’s dozens of customers), Glasco started his own food service brokerage company in Santa Fe Springs, Glasco and Associates, Inc., with sales and marketing operations that spanned a territory from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. After about 20 years he sold his company to a wealthy Jordanian food conglomerate in Orange County.
In recent years he has enjoyed the realization of his lifelong ambition to become involved in the real estate business – he is a full-time Realtor and Senior Real Estate Specialist with Dilbeck Real Estate in Arcadia and represents sellers and buyers of residential and income properties in Arcadia and throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
Meantime, Gene has volunteered his time for myriad organizations, including as two-term Commissioner and Chairman on the Arcadia Senior Citizen Commission; two-term President of the Arcadia Historical Society; Vice President of the Arcadia Highlands Home Owners Association; and a member of the Arcadia Police Department’s Volunteer In Patrol Support.
— By Scott Hettrick