Roy gives hero's welcome to man after tour in Afghanistan

Mar 11 2013 - 11:49pm

Images

Army Spc. Matt Glenn salutes the American flag at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. Glenn was honored by family, friends and city officials after returning from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Julie Glenn-Larsen wipes a tear from her eye during a ceremony to honor her son, Army Spc. Matt Glenn, at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Army Spc. Matt Glenn (right) kneels next to his grandfather Fred Beyer, who served in the military during World War II, at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. Glenn wore his grandfather’s dog tags during his deployment to Afghanistan. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A Purple Heart medal presented to Spc. Matt Glenn when he was a PFC sits on display at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A sign that reads "Thank you Matt Glenn" hangs on the walls at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Army Spc. Matt Glenn speaks directly to his grandfather Fred Beyer at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Army Spc. Matt Glenn salutes the American flag at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. Glenn was honored by family, friends and city officials after returning from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Julie Glenn-Larsen wipes a tear from her eye during a ceremony to honor her son, Army Spc. Matt Glenn, at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Army Spc. Matt Glenn (right) kneels next to his grandfather Fred Beyer, who served in the military during World War II, at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. Glenn wore his grandfather’s dog tags during his deployment to Afghanistan. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A Purple Heart medal presented to Spc. Matt Glenn when he was a PFC sits on display at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
A sign that reads "Thank you Matt Glenn" hangs on the walls at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)
Army Spc. Matt Glenn speaks directly to his grandfather Fred Beyer at the Hope Center in Roy on Saturday. (REYNALDO LEAL/Standard-Examiner)

ROY -- Following a grueling nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, Army Specialist Matt Glenn arrived home to a royal, and patriotic, welcome.

Glenn returned home to Roy on Saturday morning for a 30-day leave after serving on the front lines, where he earned a Purple Heart and several other awards for his service.

Family, friends and city officials held a special welcome-home party and ceremony for him at the Hope Community Center, where he received a special mayor's award from Mayor Joe Ritchie, a blue star flag from the American Legion for his family to hang while he finishes his Army service, and a military service award from Melba Wahlen, wife of George Wahlen, a decorated World War II hero from Roy.

As Wahlen presented him with his award, she gave him a big hug and couldn't stop smiling.

"My husband would be so proud of you," she said with emotion. "I love you, and I am honored to present this to you."

Especially meaningful for Glenn was to have his grandpa, Fred Beyer, there to honor him as well.

Beyer lives in the George Wahlen Veteran's Home and is a World War II veteran who has earned two Purple Hearts. He lost his arm in the Battle of the Bulge as a paratrooper.

Glenn wore his grandpa's dog tags during his military service.

He is Beyer's second grandson to serve in the military. His other grandson also wore his dog tags during his service.

"There is a dent in it from where I was hit," Beyer said.

"This (ceremony) has been very nice."

Glenn, filled with emotion, thanked his grandfather for being there to see him honored by family and friends.

"I want my grandpa to know how much I love him. He earned two Purple Hearts in World War II, and I don't think he ever got all this. He is a hero to all of us," Glenn said.

Alan and Jeanne Hall helped organize the event. Glenn is a longtime friend of the Hall family.

"He is pure gold, this one," Jeanne Hall said as she put her arm around Glenn.

Glenn has had several challenges during his tour, including hitting an IED while he was leading a convoy. The doors blew off the truck, and Glenn's quick thinking saved his life and the lives of his unit. He spent two weeks in a traumatic brain injury unit, besides his back being hurt in the explosion.

"He could have come home but chose not to, because that is the kind of person he is," Jeanne Hall said.

Glenn's close friend, Matt West, also praised Glenn for his service. He talked about the conditions Glenn described in emails and the many ways he was respected for his service by his superiors and his fellow platoon members.

"It is a great honor to be here to honor him," West said.

Glenn said he was surprised and humbled by the events of the day. His sister traveled from Virginia for the celebration. His mother, Julie Glenn-Larsen, was impressed by and thankful for the support of the community.

"I think there were 15 welcome-home messages on the marquees along 1900 West. Our community rallied around us," she said.

Flags lined many of the streets in the city as well.

Glenn-Larsen said she hopes people realize that there is still fighting going on in Afghanistan.

"They kind of feel like people don't know that there are still people dying over there every day," she said.

Glenn will report back for duty next month at Fort Riley, Kansas. He may stay there for the remainder of his service, unless he decides to re-enlist, but he has not yet made that decision.

For now, he said, "I'm going to relax and recharge."

 

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