- Associated Press - Saturday, October 15, 2016

VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) - The bronze medal filled 11-year-old Dylan Glickauf’s hand.

Three inches across, the medal is emblazoned on one side with an eagle. On the other side is the name John W. McConnell and the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.

“My mom and dad found it at an antique store, and they thought it was a novelty. They thought I would like it because I’m a Boy Scout,” recalled the Cooks Corner Elementary School student.

Then Dylan saw the name on the back and knew it belonged to someone.

“I thought he would want it back. I have a lot of badges myself, and I know how hard they are to earn,” he said.

Dylan’s father, Dan Glickauf, said he and his wife, Emily, had purchased the medal from Spill the Milk Vintage in Valparaiso. The owner told him it had come from an estate sale at a home on Lincolnway in Valparaiso.

The medal was identified as the Intelligence Medal of Merit, awarded, according to the CIA’s website, “for performance of especially meritorious service or for an act or achievement conspicuously above normal duties.”

Dan Glickauf called The Times, asking a story be done to track down John W. McConnell. They’d done some research, but hadn’t found anything to connect McConnell to Valparaiso.

Googling “John W. McConnell and CIA” brought up the genealogy website of Art Zemon of Saint Charles, Missouri. Zemon’s website gave McConnell’s story.

Born in Wisconsin in 1911, McConnell joined the U.S. Army in 1941, where he became an officer. In 1946, McConnell was encouraged to join the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA. He joined the CIA in 1947 and remained an administrator with the agency until 1973, when he retired to Arlington, Virginia. According to the biography, McConnell and his wife lived in Chicago, New York and Washington D.C., but never Northwest Indiana. McConnell died in 1983.

A search on the Porter County Public Library’s web obituary index indicated there was an obituary in the former Vidette Messenger for McConnell. With the help of a librarian who pulled up the obituary on microfilm, the local connection was named. His stepson, Norman Robertson, lived in Valparaiso.

An email response from Zemon, who turned out to be McConnell’s step grandson, confirmed the story. Zemon, Robertson’s stepson, had also lived in Valparaiso in the 1970s, graduating from Valparaiso High School in 1976. McConnell’s wife, Mary, had lived in Valparaiso after McConnell’s death and until her own in 1992. She is buried in Graceland Cemetery.

Zemon said the medal landed in the antique shop last year after he had to clean out his stepfather’s house.

“I had to take care of my stepfather’s house quickly, and there was no way to do that gracefully,” he said, adding he made a trip to Indiana, made a cursory look through his stepfather’s things and then sold most of the remaining items to the antique store or gave them away to a charitable organization.

Zemon and the Glickaufs spoke recently. The Glickaufs are sending the medal to Zemon.

“I’m glad to get it back,” he said, adding he will end up giving it to his two nephews, ages 8 and 10, who are McConnell’s step great-grandsons.

Zemon said he didn’t know McConnell, whom most people called Mac, well, but knew that he was one of the first employees of the CIA when the agency formed.

For Dylan, he said being able to get the medal back to McConnell’s family “feels good.”

“I just think it is kinda cool,” he said.


Source: The (Northwest Indiana) Times, https://bit.ly/2dNwGus


Information from: The Times, https://www.nwitimes.com

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