Medals and momentos show life well lived

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

On Glover Pugh’s wall you will see his dog tags, Bronze Star, Blue Badge, Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart presented to him in the hospital near the end of World War II.

Alongside are the telegrams, dated March and April 1945, sent to notify his mother, Mary Pugh in Coffeeville, of his injuries. Sitting in his purple veteran’s coat, tie and cap, he shows me a second Purple Heart, more formally displayed in its original case. He speaks of being shot by a German bazooka fired into his convoy on a mountainside north of Bologna, Italy, during part of the ‘final push of the war.’

The result was a crushed skull. During surgery, doctors removed a fragment of his skull, which he requested to keep and wore afterwards on the chain with his dog tags. When he recovered and was released from the Army hospital, he donated a pint of blood to each of the remaining hospitalized soldiers.

To date he has donated 42 pints of blood to the American Red Cross, as well as giving blood through direct transfusion to his sister when she gave birth to twins.

Drafted just 19 days after his high school graduation, Glover first trained as a Sky Trooper in the Everglades, but eventually found himself assigned and serving with the 10th Mountain Division.

After the war, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and taught agriculture for 32 years in Mobile County’s Vet Farm Program.

Widowed twice, he presides over a clan of 14 children and stepchildren and, to date, 15 grandchildren. His present wife, Jimmie, enjoys bird watching on their screened porch (which doubles as Glover’s office), while compiles and archives mementoes of a life well-lived.

Along with the fat scrapbook of photos and clippings, Glover has written ‘An Authentic Story,’ that begins with the history of Clarke County and Generals Coffee and Jackson’s activities along the Tombigbee River, where he went swimming as a boy.

His southern roots, from beginning life as a child of the Depression to specifics about WWII and the rich life he created afterwards are sure to be appreciated by any history buff.

At 82, he recollects clearly his rescue by an Italian farmer as he lay bleeding in a wheat field in the bitter cold winter of 1945. He has not forgotten the farmer who gave him warm milk that night nor the support of the Italian people who hid U.S. soldiers in their farmhouses. He said they lined the country roads and handed out bread, onions and wine to U.S. troops on the march.

His concern today is about the high suicide rate and the extreme injuries of soldiers now returning from Iraq.

He recently wrote a letter to the Purple Heart magazine encouraging these men and women to not give up, but “make yourself available to do some good in your life.” His life reflects that he has well used this advice in his own personal mission.

Laura Brookhart can be contacted by e-mail at mailto:laurabrookhart@yahoo.com