Not All Soldiers Die in Battle; Joseph Glatney Died In an Auto Crash Fighting to Become an Damn Good Officer

Posted on March 29, 2011


Joseph Glatney

Joseph Glatney, the SUNY student and  ROTC cadet  who died in a car crash in a town near mine last Wednesday had been one of my student boarders.  From last January through this past August, I had the joy of knowing him. In all his business with school and ROTC he stopped by here last winter on a snowy day and shoveled my walk.

He carried my Labrador retriever, Sam Henry, out to the back yard so he could try to throw up something that had made him sick. But Sam died.  We were stunned.  The vet had said he would have no trouble passing it.  I was not prepared for what happened.  Joseph was a good person to have around at the time and in his characteristic kind manner, insisted on paying for the cremation.   Sam’s passing was for this old lady, among the most difficult times in a long life.  But Joseph made it easier for me.

His devotion to his studies and to the military were such that he had no extra time and only got about 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night. Still, he enjoyed our long conversations  – much of it around a topic for a paper. I was both sounding board and proof reader. One paper he revised so many times he reminded me of my own over-powering perfectionism in college. I told him to go with the first draft.  It was very good. He was smiling ear to ear when he told me that draft had won him an “A.”

Joseph had a meticulously planned life. He had served overseas but returned to complete his college education. He insisted on the highest grades, and at ROTC at a nearby University in drills, he was proud to be able to go the farthest distance with the heaviest back pack while carrying a “wounded” comrade.

He was looking forward to a career in the Army as an officer. But he told me that when he got older, he wanted to return to his native Ghana to teach and give young people there the opportunities he had had.

He told me repeatedly he wanted to bring his mother here for medical treatment for her diabetes. But when his mother died suddenly last year, he just fell apart. He was the youngest.  He flew home immediately, pained he was unable to say goodbye. I am glad he is with her now.

I think of his father in NYC and of the rest of his family.

The County Sherriff is still trying to determine the cause of the accident. I think I know. He was returning from ROTC at 8 AM after early morning drills with only a few hours of sleep. He may have just fallen asleep at the wheel. I will miss this very special soul full of so much promise and carrying so many plans for his life and so close to graduation.


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