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Bettendorf veteran served in three wars, two branches of service
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Bettendorf veteran served in three wars, two branches of service

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When you say, “Thank you for your service” to veteran Jim Glaser, it's appropriate to say it three times.

Glaser, 92, of Bettendorf, served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He will speak at a Pearl Harbor Day ceremony Saturday in Davenport.

Although he was too young for the service at the time, he remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. “I was at a birthday party at my oldest brother’s house,” he said. “It just happened to be my mother’s birthday.”

“We were sitting around listening to the radio” when the news was broadcast, Glaser said.

He and his wife, Carol, 87, have been married 68 years as of Sunday, Dec. 1. He met her when he worked in Herberger’s, a clothing store in New Ulm, Minn. He took his breaks at a cafe where his sister worked alongside Carol.

Not surprisingly, they finish each other’s sentences, and affirm dates and details with each other. She pats his arm while he talks about his military career.

Glaser, who was born and raised in New Ulm, was a teenager when he joined the Navy in 1944. He earned an honorable discharge in 1946 after he served on the U.S.S. New Jersey in the Pacific.

World War II ended in 1945. Then, at the advent of the Korean War in 1950, Glaser found himself a “young 23-year-old” who was eligible for the draft. This time, he went into the Army.

“I never went into basic training,” he said. He became a “cadre,” a member of a group of leaders who served as trainers at Fort Riley, Kan. He married Carol at Fort Riley on Dec. 1, 1951. Their first son was born there in 1954, and eventually the family grew to include two boys and two girls.

“We never thought much of his service when we were in,” Carol Glaser said. “It was just his job. He was in the Army, so you go where they send you.”

Glaser served in Vietnam, and he was there during the Tet Offensive attacks during the Vietnamese New Year holiday in 1968.

After he served in Vietnam, he was an adviser for the National Guard in Davenport, where he served from 1968 to 1970.

Along the way, Glaser earned two Army Commendation Medals and the Bronze Star.

His other work history includes driving a grain truck, serving as chief dispatcher for the Mayflower Agency, and working for the Rock Island Arsenal, managing personal property and passenger travel.

Glaser, a member of Vietnam Veterans of America 776, was the Veterans Day parade marshal. He went on an Honor Flight in 2009, when he was part of a team with the late Alvis Taylor, whose wife also will appear at Saturday's Pearl Harbor Day ceremony.

Glaser and his wife said they believe the military is a positive experience. Both of their sons served in the Army.

“The draft should be reinstated,” Jim Glaser said.

Each gives credit to the other — he commends her for raising their four children, and she said she appreciates his military career and other work. “Every time he re-enlisted, he asked me first,” she said.

“We are so blessed to be married that long,” she said. The secret to those 68 years is two simple words, he joked: “Yes, dear.”

The family now includes their four grown children, 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and a fifth generation: A great-great-granddaughter has joined the ranks.