In 1967, Allan Glass was a 17-year-old living his best life in Miami, Florida.
“I was having fun,” he recalled, “going to college, driving a new car, surfing.”
The following year, at age 18, he was drafted for the war in Vietnam, forever changing the course of his life.
Now based in Powell River, Glass has documented the harrowing experiences that followed in his book Losing My Country, Keeping My Soul. He will be sharing his autobiographical story at Powell River Public Library on Saturday, January 12, at 2 pm.
Before the draft, the concept of war was an abstract one for a teenager, he said. He was studying for an accounting degree at a local college.
“When I got drafted I had no idea of what was going on in Vietnam,” he added.
Glass said he believed the war would be over quickly and decided to go through army training. However, after four months of training and a month of leave he was given orders for Vietnam.
Instead of reporting for duty, he fled.
“Finally I had to make a decision,” he said. “Take me to jail or take off, so I decided to roll the dice. I became a fugitive for a year and made it up to Canada in a most unusual way.”
Glass writes about these experiences, including his years living underground in Canada before becoming a landed immigrant and obtaining papers in 1973.
For many years Glass lived on Texada Island, where he worked in forestry and drove a bus. He is married and has one daughter. At the time he was unaware that a community of US expatriates, including draft dodgers, existed only miles away in Lund.
“We were our own little hippie community on Texada; I knew nothing about what was going on in Lund back then.” he said. “It was only after I moved to Powell River and began to open up about my story I actually got up the gumption to write. Once I sat down at the computer it just came pouring out.”
Aside from documenting his adventures and ordeals, Glass said one of his motivations for writing the book is to reach youth with his story.
“This is a story that should be told for other reasons than it’s a good read,” he said. “One of my main messages is to get it out to 18 year olds who are graduating from high school and are thinking of a military career. I’m not against armies because I believe they are here to protect our country, our soil, but to go somewhere else and start shooting people, it’s getting a little weird. Somebody else is pulling the strings when you start doing that kind of stuff.”
Glass said he plans to reach as many people as he can with his story and has recently penned a second book.
“Now that I’m retired I really want to push this until the day I die,” he said.
Along with the talk at the library on Saturday, an interview with Glass will be on CJMP Powell River 90.1 FM every Thursday this month at 4 pm. For more information and where to find books, contact Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org.