A suitcase of memories (2024)

When Jim Glozier came home to Georgia from Vietnam in August of 1969, his suitcase contained many of his worldly possessions, including most of his fatigues, pictures, and Army medals.

He served in the 9th Division 4th Battalion 47th Infantry. He parachuted from choppers into rice paddies as part of the Mobile Riverine Force, tasked with both transport of soldiers and equipment, and combat.It was up to the joint Army-Navy MRF to locate, encircle, and destroy communist units in battle.

The Americans designed a formation especially suited to the Mekong Delta, where the absence of dry land and abundance of navigable waterways made it desirable to station ground troops onboard floating bases.Having demonstrated their worth during two years of combat, the Mobile Riverine Force units would be in the vanguard of this new strategic approach to the war.

Like many returning Vietnam veterans, Jim didn’t get a warm welcome when he came home. He doesn’t dwell on that because he has tried to lay aside those bad memories and painful feelings, but developments in the past few months have awakened some raw emotions for him. He seems surprised because, after all, it’s been more than 50 years.

Upon his return, Jim entered into several successful business ventures. Years later, he ended up at his mother’s place in Homer, Georgia, to care for her. When she passed away, he stayed. But he never forgot the suitcase that contained his belongings, his memories, and medals from Vietnam. After all, Jim earned those the hard way.

A chance meeting

Enter Cory Dodd, a “cart pusher” at the Walmart in Commerce, Georgia. The day Jim approached him in the parking lot was a day Cory won’t soon forget.

“My first thought when I saw him almost skating across the parking lot with his cart was that he was an old man who wanted to talk,” Cory explained.

His initial impression quickly changed. When Jim told him his story, Cory became a fan.

“Mr. Glozier told me that he had lost his suitcase full of his Vietnam belongings but he had been contacted by a man in England when the suitcase came into his possession. He was so excited that I became excited for him.”

For some perspective, Cory is 28 years old. He wasn’t born when the Vietnam war was in every headline and consumed America’s conscience. Jim refers to his chance meeting with Cory as a “generational bond.”

“I was just so happy for him because I could see how much it meant to him. Those medals belong to him. He endured suffering to earn them,” explained Cory.

Cory was Jim’s second contact with a Walmart employee. Shortly before he bumped into Cory, he shared his story with the cashier who handled his checkout.

“I was excited as I put my items on the counter and she could tell it,” said Jim, “I proceeded to tell her about the suitcase and my belongings and my story in a nutshell because I just had to tell somebody.”

He paused as he related that encounter, in tears at the sheer emotion of locating what had been lost for so many years.

From Georgia to England

As Jim explained, “My brother had my suitcase in storage. After he and his wife got a divorce, she sold everything.”

At some point, that suitcase full of Vietnam memories ended up on eBay. And that is how it came to be in the possession of Jack Ewing who lives in London.

“I bid on and bought the suitcase about seven months ago. I loved the contents because they were a piece of history,” Ewing explained.

His interest was no surprise. Ewing has been collecting Vietnam memorabilia since he was 15 years old. He is now 32.

“I was always interested in the Vietnam war from an early age, growing up in the 80s and 90s we had a backlog of Hollywood films being played a lot which stuck in my mind, as well as books and photographs.”

“Back then I joined a Vietnam collectors group in London. A lot of the guys collected 9th Infantry Division items and a small portion on the Navy. For this reason, I really got into Naval memorabilia. While doing so I discovered the MRF, which blew my mind when I saw it was joint Navy and Army Task Force operating out of boats. The concept was a throwback to the American Civil War. Ever since, I have been researching and collecting original items and trying to get more answers on the background of these items such as the unique Berets and Insignia worn by the MRF.” -excerpt from an interview with River Currents, a publication of The Mobile Riverine Force Association.

Ewing is still an avid collector and his focus is on the Riverines. He and another ardent follower of the Unit are working on a book that will document experiences and showcase the unique berets, patches, equipment, and uniforms that were used.

“It’s important to record all this history for future historians, enthusiasts, and collectors so
it will be around in years to come.”

The connections

Once Ewing had the collection from Jim Glozier’s suitcase, it was time to start tracking him down. It wasn’t easy. He posted pictures of some of the contents on a Riverine Facebook group, including Jim’s badge.

He finally got a response from Mike McCann, a retired Fire Chief in San Mateo, California. As it turned out, McCann trained with Glozier prior to shipping out to Vietnam. They were buddies, part of the Band of Brothers who were heading to harm’s way in a war that many Americans thought should never have been fought.

A few months ago Jim was able to reconnect with McCann on Facebook. Then other “brothers” began to contact him.

“It was hard at first to respond to their friend requests. In some ways those memories had been buried for so long it was overwhelming. I was skeptical and get choked up just thinking about it. The hesitation to connect came from some dark experiences we all shared,” he explained.

While difficult at first, Jim now enjoys catching up on some of the good times with his long-lost friends. It’s hard not to smile when you look back on front row seats for a Bob Hope USO show.

The note

The belongings from Jim’s suitcase, especially the medals and pictures, were important to him but something else inside that suitcase meant so much more.

When Jim was in Vietnam, his sister, Susie, had sent him a prayer book that she wrote when she was only 13 years old. He carried that prayer book with him every day in Vietnam.

The book contained a note from her, “You’re in God’s hands now.”

He and his sister were very close. He walked her down the aisle at her wedding. Susie died at 34 years old and the personal notes from her meant far more to him than anything else inside his suitcase from Vietnam.

Again, this memory brought silence and tears.

End of a pursuit

Tears were shed and lives were lost. The Vietnam War was the longest and most unpopular foreign war in U.S. history and cost 58,000 American lives. For soldiers like Jim Glozier and Mike McCann, some of their brothers didn’t make it back. Those are painful memories etched into their soul.

In pursuit of a lost suitcase which was found in England, Jim Glozier was able to see pictures and relive memories from 52 years ago. Medals can be replaced but memories live forever. Some, while painful in the beginning, have led to rekindling friendships and sharing happiness amongst comrades from an impossible war.

For English collector and author Jack Ewing, the suitcase of Jim’s belongings opened yet another door to showing and telling the story of an integral factor in the Vietnam war, the Riverines. He has every intention of returning Jim’s medals and prayer book. Ewing agreed with Cory Dodd’s assessment, “Those medals belong to Jim. He earned them.”

What started with a message from Cory about a chance meeting in a Walmart parking lot, came full circle over the past two months. All Cory wanted was a happy ending with Jim receiving the medals he earned “the hard way.”

One of those medals is a Bronze Star, awarded for heroism and meritorious service. Thank you for your service Jim Glozier! While they may not be part of your Band of Brothers, no one is applauding your service any louder than Cory Dodd and Jack Ewing.

A suitcase of memories (2024)
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