Long-time Snellville resident, Helen Glenn celebrated her ninety-ninth birthday with family and friends in August 2017. She is proud to have served her country with pride and patriotism.
A veteran of the armed forces, Veteran’s Day holds a special meaning for her. Major Glenn served in the Women’s Army Corps as an intelligence staff officer during World War II. Stationed in a town located outside of London, England, Glenn worked alongside the British allies. She taught and prepared troops for the unimaginable, how to survive if they became a prisoner of war. For four years, Glenn managed the daily operations of the intelligence staff, and her unit helped decipher secret messages from captured Americans.
WWII began in 1939 when Hitler and Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Germany, at that time, was conquering and controlling much of Europe, later forming the Axis alliance with Japan and Italy. The global war lasted for six years, involved more than thirty countries, and claimed between fifty to eighty-five million military and civilian deaths.
For Glenn, surviving the German’s heavy bombing in London, referred to as the “blitz” or Blitzkrieg, was paramount. “We lived every day – day by day. We had to learn to adapt and survive,” recalled Glenn. Glenn shared an ingenious method that tried to keep the soldiers safe. “The pilots wore silk scarves and printed on the scarf was a pattern that indicated escape routes in the event their plane went down.”
What was it like to serve in the all-women battalion in the European theater? “I had a strong sense of patriotism, and I knew I could be helpful. There was no reason why I shouldn’t serve my country,” Glenn added.
While sharing vintage photographs, scrapbooks, articles, and memorabilia, Glenn even reflected on an invitation to attend Thanksgiving dinner at Buckingham Palace where she met King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and her family.
‘Service to country and community’ remained Glenn’s mainstay throughout her career. In the 1960s, Glenn was appointed as the Dean of Women at Mercer University.
On September 29, 2017, Alpha Delta Pi headquarters invited Glenn to a luncheon to celebrate seventy-five years of membership. Initiated in 1937, Glenn became an active member of the sorority, serving as the Director of Executive Office and Grand Secretary-Treasurer from 1948 to 1957. She and her father were instrumental in finding the final destination of Alpha Delta Pi’s executive office and memorial headquarters located at 1386 Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta.
Glenn smiles looking back on her military service, her role at Mercer University, and active involvement with Alpha Delta Pi sorority with pride on a life well-lived. With a twinkle in her eye, she looks forward to celebrating the upcoming holidays and her 100th birthday in 2018.