FRIENDS AND FAMILY REMINISCENCES
GLEN RAYMOND PHILLIPS
To those fortunate enough to know him, Glen Phillips was many characters rolled into one. The following is a collection of favorite "Glen" stories from friends, classmates, and family members.
Before his Academy days, Glen was a Golden Gloves boxing champion, replete with lightning quick hands and a crooked, broken nose that somehow managed to enhance his good looks.
From Classmate Butch Khoury: I remember the first time I saw Glen in the boxing ring during Plebe summer. His style matched his character and his speech -- slow, deliberate, not flashy, but devastatingly effective.
From Classmate Sam McKee: During a "Smoker" on First Class cruise in the Med, Glen was asked to box, but didn't want to because he had just had surgery that Spring to repair/straighten his broken nose. After some urging, he finally agreed to fight a much bigger sailor from the engine room. During the introductions before the fight started, Glen gave the sailor a look that would freeze nitrogen. First round, one straight, quick left jab from Glen and the sailor could not get on the deck fast enough! Hilarious -- unless you happened to be the one looking into those all-of-a-sudden steel-blue eyes.
From Classmate Phil Rognlien: I recall the story that took place during flight training when Glen, his wife Carol, and Mike McCullough went to a local high school football game in Pensacola. Some young, recent high school grads were using some off color, vulgar language. Glen took exception to the swearing and asked them to knock off the profanity, at which time one of the young guys turned around and said the big "F" word to Glen in a very loud voice. Big mistake! Mike said he didn't mind the language -- it was Glen who took offense at the cursing -- so he didn't understand why he had to go under the stands with Glen and beat up 18 year olds.
I loved Glen and, in my book, he was an All Star.
The Pied Piper
Glen had many of the characteristics of a Pied Piper. He seemed to attract followers and admirers easily. Those who followed the trail would, more often than not, end up having a great time, but perhaps should have been forewarned to not be surprised if there was trouble at the end of the evening.
From Classmate Mike McCullough: During pre-flight training in Pensacola in the Fall of 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the New York Yankees in the World Series. Being a Pittsburgh native and a Pirate fan, Glen just had to see the games on TV and convinced about five of us to skip class in the afternoons to keep him company at the Officers' Club, where we could watch the games and drink beer. Long story short, we were found out by the school administrators and made to do an extra week of pre-flight, but some of the pain was erased for Glen (and doubled for me) when the Bucs' Mazeroski hit the Series-winning home run and cleaned me out on the bet we had going.
Also, according to Glen, in Pensacola, Glen was always running with the guys after hours -- on occasion, very late hours -- so he bought Carol a pistol for self-protection. One night, he forgot his house key and started climbing in a window, as he thought Carol would be asleep. When he was half way in, he ran into Carol pointing the gun in his direction. The gun was returned the next day!
The Marathon Man
It's no secret that Glen loved to win, but he loved to compete just as much, if not more. The fun was in "playing the game," and trying to find a way to beat you one way or another. As long as he was still playing, he figured he still had a chance!
From Son-in-Law Moe LeHoullier: Glen single-handedly transformed me from a mild-mannered person to a hyper-competitive knucklehead in a very short time. The competitions we had were non-stop. He refused to let me marry Tami until I could beat him at golf. I told myself "no sweat" since I was a better golfer than he was from Day 1. Little did I know how relentless the man was! For instance, one day while Tami and I were at flight training and he and Carol were visiting, we went to play a quick 18 holes early in the morning and, as I expected, I got the best of him. So he says, "It's only 11 o'clock, why quit now, what are we gonna do all day anyways? Come on, let's play another round." So we play another 18 holes and toward the end I'm ahead again, it's getting dark, he's throwing clubs and saying curse words in some strange tongue, and I manage to hold onto the lead and beat him again. "Not so fast," he says, "it's still light out -- one more hole, double or nothing, all the marbles, plus a hundred." Never heard a bet like that before but what was I gonna do? I agreed and sure enough, he manages to pull out the hole! He has that little curled up grin on his face and says, "Don't know about you, Moe, but I've had enough. Bet the girls are wondering where we are, Let's get going!" We leave and, of course, I had to hear the rest of the night how he was barely able to pull off the win! We had many battles like that. I've played him in the pitch dark while he battled back from certain defeat. He just never gave up.
Glen was the consummate practical joker and looked for the funny side in every situation. He was forever smiling, he was witty, and he loved jokes -- telling them and playing them. He loved to laugh and saved the biggest laughs for when the joke was on him.
From Classmate Ben Hallowell: One day, Glen and I went fishing. We drank a lot of beer, but landed only one fish. Glen fought it for five minutes, thinking it was some sort of tarpon, only to land some sort of really ugly fish from the depths. It had wings and legs and a huge head with a lot of teeth. Well, being the little boys that we were back then, we decided to put that fish in Julie Ann Gilstrap's toilet (Glen and Carol's next door neighbor in the housing complex), while she and Jim were out seeing the movie "Psycho," with the really scary Janet Leigh shower scene. We laughed and giggled as we stuffed that creature tail-first down the toilet until only that ugly head, teeth, and legs were showing in the bowl itself, so that it looked like it was trying to crawl up out of the toilet. We then closed the lid and went back across the hall to Glen's apartment to wait. Julie Ann's scream, upon her return and discovery of the monster, exceeded even our wildest expectations!
From Classmate Mike McCullough: I remember a couple of short favorites --
One day, during a hand-to-hand instruction class, Glen says to me, "That one might hurt. Let's take it easy on each other. You go first!"
And, "Oh, Jesus, Mike, you're losing your hair. I'd rather lose my teeth than lose my hair!"
And, during Plebe year, at the first meal after the upperclassmen got back, I was sitting at Glen's table and we were really getting the "treatment." All at once and for no apparent reason, Glen started laughing. I thought for sure they were going to kill him. I was wrong, of course. They started laughing, too!
The Ultimate Competitor
Everybody knows Glen loved to win, but he loved the competition, the playing of the game, even more. Whether it was in the ring, on the football field, playing chess, or just challenging himself, for Glen, life was one continuous competition -- and may the best man (or woman) win!
From Classmate Ben Hallowell: Glen was a legendary poker player, rarely ever losing. But Gin Rummy was a different story. When he first moved to California after airline training, he had this small house in the Bay area with Carol, two little girls, and hardly any furniture. Well, one day, I drove up from Monterey to visit and, of course, he leaned on me to spend the weekend. We golfed, and one of us was ahead , but that led to a little Gin Rummy in the clubhouse after the golf match. Glen was famous, even back then, for never quitting or letting it go, which led to some "marathon" events. So, the Gin Rummy game from the clubhouse was carried back and continued at home while Carol kept dinner waiting. He finally conceded after I had won enough to go out after dinner to "buy my own bed," a substantial sum back then! I'll never forget owning my own bed at that house. His little girls, Hope and Tami, were really cute and used to love to hide in the closet next to my bed and then jump out and scare the wits out of me. Glen was like Tom Sawyer and knew how to "work" me even back. I'm sure he told the girls (although he would never admit to it) to go downstairs and scare me knowing he would have a built-in baby sitter (me) while he and Carol bagged some extra Sunday morning zzzzz's.
That led to pentathlons, which usually consisted of golf; big-time whiffle ball in a Phillips-designed court, complete with his own (advantageous) ground rules; some kind of card game (he was obsessed with chess then, too, but it took too long to play); pool; and shuffleboard at a local bar. The winner of each event accumulated points and the one with the most points at the end got to keep the trophy (yes, he made the trophy, too!) until the next time we got together. Well, that was all great until he started to involve his own family. His brother-in-law Ed Dolinar, married to Carol's sister, Janet, was just as strong a competitor as Glen and also had children who were the same ages as Hope and Tami. Glen would get so worked up over those family golf games. Once, he even accused poor Eddie of standing on his (Glen's) ball in the rough so Glen couldn't find it. One time, we visited Ed and Janet and lost in a close family event, which ended with a relay race in the pool. The young Phillips girls beat the Dolinar boys, but, in the end, Eddie beat Glen with a Michael Phelps touch-out to win the whole thing. Of course, true to form, Glen protested the outcome to the referee (my wife, Avery), but no way would she reverse it. Glen was still so mad that, even after a wonderful day and dinner hosted by Ed and Janet, Glen knocked over all their trash cans (full) at the end of the driveway as we pulled out to drive home. Glen insisted it was an "accident!"
Glen had the most violent golf swing I have ever seen -- he was the first to "grunt" after every violent stroke with his driver (Chrissie Evert copied him) -- and, boy did he ever try hard. That was the bottom line with Glen -- he put his heart into everything he tried. One time, in Pensacola, he took a violent swing at his golf bag after a missed shot, only to grimace when he realized that his brand new pistol (another new hobby), which he had just purchased for at least a half-month's pay, was in the golf bag. The look on his face was pure Glen as he pulled out the shattered pieces of that pistol from his golf bag!
From Son-in-Law Moe LeHoullier: I recall the day Tami and I reported to Columbus AFB to start pilot training (the next day). Carol and Glen were there with us, so the four of us hit the "O" Club for a couple of beers. Always looking for some game, Glen stuffs a piece of popcorn in his nose and fires it at a basket on the floor. He must have realized an unknown skill and we soon started shooting popcorn out of our noses -- first one to make five shots wins 10 bucks. The game took on a serious tone in no time at all and soon we were enthralled. An Air Force captain came up to us and told us our game wasn't acceptable behavior for the Club. He then pointed to his captain's bars and told me to stop it. Glen went up to him and ripped him a new one, telling him he had dealt with piss ants like him when he was in the Navy, and if he wanted to step outside they could continue the conversation. Cooler heads (Carol and Tami) prevailed and we left. It was pretty funny until I found out the next morning, to my shock and surprise, that our flight commander was that very same Air Force captain from the night before! True story! The stories go on and on with that guy. I sure do miss him.
Glen had an eye for design and things artistic. He loved to take photographs, experimenting with different cameras, film, and light meters back at a time when most of us were just trying to master the box Brownie. It seemed nothing was too hard to try or too complex to master. A real Pisces dreamer!
From Classmate Bo Aglio: Glen was on the Class Ring and Crest Committee and had a key role in the design of the USNA Class of 1960 Crest. We will always be reminded of Glen when we look at our class rings or class crest pin.
From Son-in-Law Moe LeHoullier: Shortly before Glen's passing, Glen and Carol were planning to build a new home a short distance from their existing home in the same Reno neighborhood where they had lived for several years. Glen, with no formal training or experience in home design, designed and built a full-scale model of the home they planned to build.
As tough and competitive as he was, Glen had a heart as soft as a new puppy and as big as the outdoors. He wouldn't hesitate to give you the shirt off his back, well-timed words of encouragement, or even a hug if he thought it would help the situation.
From Classmate Al Ames: I was in New York City...It was about three weeks after my wife died and I was still in a big funk...I was in sweats...about 11 A.M....the doorbell rings and there stands Glen, unannounced and unexpected...Get dressed!!!...We're going out!!!...I do and we go to a local Tex-Mex restaurant/bar...about seven hours later, after some food and God only knows how many beers later...he stands me up and pushes me back home and puts me to bed...I pass out, he leaves, only to call a day later from California...He just thought I needed a friend to tip a few with...I did!!!...He was a very special guy!!!
From Classmate Paul Sanner: I remember the time during Plebe summer when I found myself in a boxing class going a few rounds with Glen Phillips (not knowing that he had been a Golden Gloves champion in Pennsylvania at one time). I kept wondering why the instructor kept saying, "Take it easy, Phillips, take it easy!" Fortunately, for me, Glen took it very easy and I managed to survive!
From Classmate Ron Hinkel: I remember Glen at one Homecoming Weekend. I had not seen him in a long time. We were having a really good conversation between two people who were interested in the conversation and fond of each other. There were other classmates around us in the same group, but for the moment it seemed like it was the two of us alone. I don't recall for sure, but either someone bumped me or I lost my grip and my glass somehow fell out of my hand right in front of Glen's feet, splashing beer all over his shoes and pants. I was mortified and bent down to try to clean his shoes. He would have none of that! He grabbed me around my shoulders so I couldn't do more attempted repair to the situation, looked me in the eyes with that crooked sort of smile of his, and said, "Hinkel, you can throw beer on my shoes any time you want! Let's go get another one!" Which we did!
From Classmate Jim McCusker: During Plebe year boxing training with Coach Tony Rubino and during the matches, Glen never failed to give me and everyone else a word of encouragement and support. Always gave the big smile and greeting no matter where or when we met. A class guy!
Cool Hand Luke
For all his competitiveness, Glen seldom let you know that you were getting the best of him. He seemed to be always composed, sizing up the situation and looking for a way to come out on top. He had ice water in his veins, but don't ever get his dander up!
From Classmate Ben Hallowell: Glen loved life and living it to the fullest, but I hope we remember Glen's serious side and his "cool" under pressure. In the 1970's, flying as a co-pilot for TWA, he was hijacked at gunpoint, but was able to defuse the situation and had the distraught hijacker calm and under control by the time the Captain landed the plane. He never got the credit he deserved for these things because he always shrugged it off as no big deal. I think they landed in Pittsburgh. Glen probably would have taken the kid out for a beer if he could have.
From Classmate Dave Woodward: I took Glen and some others sailing just before June Week in 1960. It was a windy day and we had to pick up the mooring buoy in the river. The landing was a little more exciting than I intended. Everyone was running around yelling, "Woody, slow down!" Glen remained cool and calm and asked quietly, "What do you want me to do?" I told him to pick up the mooring line, which he did.
Glen Phillips was our classmate and teammate, but mostly he was our friend. He lived life to the fullest and didn't seem to waste a minute of it. Yet he still made enough time to share much of it with us. It would take most of us two lifetimes to experience what he did in one. He was truly one of a kind.
Although Glen is now gone from this life, he will live forever in our hearts and minds. We will be always grateful for the friendship he gave us during our times together.