By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller
After his first tour of duty, Sag Harbor resident Charles Glass was excited to come home, but in no way was he prepared for the homecoming he received. A group of friends, family and volunteers gathered at the Chelberg and Battle Post of the American Legion after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning to welcome the Army National Guard Sergeant safely home from Afghanistan.
“We had members of the public out past 1:30 a.m. in the morning,” said Sag Harbor Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie. “It was nice to see the people of Sag Harbor come out to support one of our own, even though it was so late.”
Sgt. Glass, a 30-year-old Bay Point resident, returned to Sag Harbor this weekend after a nine-month tour of duty as a member of the Army National Guard. Six of those months, Sgt. Glass was stationed in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Glass arrived from Mississippi, where he underwent a two-week debriefing, aboard a flight to Long Island MacArthur Airport around 11 a.m. His wife, Sarah — a special education teacher at Pierson High School — family members and a crew of firefighters and emergency service workers from across Suffolk County were there to offer Sgt. Glass and four other combat medics a personal escort home, lights blazing in honor.
The Sag Harbor Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, of which Sgt. Glass is a member, were a part of the escort, which was led by the Long Island Chapter of the US Veterans Motorcycle Club.
Sgt. Glass was joined by four other members of the 1-69th Infantry Battalion out of Manhattan — SPC Luke Imperato of Bohemia, SPC Tony Hetherington, Staff Sgt. Angel Vasica and SFC Sean Brown.
After leading the soldiers through Bohemia and Patchogue, the escort split off to bring Sgt. Glass home to Sag Harbor.
According to Chief Garypie, police units from both Sag Harbor and Southampton, as well as the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps took over the escort in Southampton. They brought Glass down Noyac Road, past his Bay Point neighborhood and over the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge to Bay Street and the American Legion where a group of Sag Harbor residents had gathered and were waiting.
For Sgt. Glass, who trained in Mississippi for three months before serving in Kandahar and then at forward operating base Lagman in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan, it was overwhelming and unexpected to come home to such a celebration.
“Sag Harbor is great and that they all came out to welcome me home — it was amazing,” said Sgt. Glass who added volunteering was something that has always been a part of his life.
“Everywhere I have lived I have always been a member of the fire department and ambulance squad,” he said.
As a teenager growing up in the Adirondacks, Sgt. Glass joined the fire department and became a certified EMT. He continued to volunteer while attending Cortland College and after moving to Sag Harbor to live close to his brother, Dan, he said there was little question he would join the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps.
“For us, to have him come back safe was a gift,” said Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Ed Downes. “He is very skilled and a good EMT. He is responsible, educated and whenever you need him to help out he is there.”
For now, Sgt. Glass is ready to relax with his wife and enjoy some time off before returning to his job at Riverhead Building Supply in East Hampton.
“We will go on a few trips — see my parents upstate and just spend some time together,” he said. “It’s been a long nine months.”