Local veteran writes about Vietnam experience
Arthur Haman, author of Vietnam 365 days, was born in Otter Tail County in 1945 and grew up on a dairy farm with his three sisters and seven brothers. As a child, Art spent many hours in his father's oak-filled woods, climbing trees, shooting rabbits, squirrels, and playing with Laddie, their farm dog. Being outdoors was very much the norm around the Haman household.
All entertainment was self-created by imaginative siblings. There were no TVs, Ipads, cell phones, on one pleasant warm sunny day Art and several of his siblings were sent down their quarter-mile-long driveway to mail a letter for Mom. They went early to be sure to get there ahead of the mailman. The ditch along the road had several shallow pools of water that were just hopping with green and brown frogs. Someone got the idea that it would be great fun to catch a bunch of frogs and put them in the mailbox. Then they hide in the corn field to wait. When the mail man drove up and pulled open the mailbox door 40 frogs hopped right into his face and then all over the inside of his car.
For Art, life was not all fun and games. Every spring when the school year was over, the kids still at home went to the oats and corn fields with their Dad to pick the rocks. The rocks were loaded by hand into a four wheel trailer that had an oak plank box, and it was pulled by Dad's team of horses: Mack, a high spirited Roan gelding and Tootsie, a coal black well-mannered mare. Dad loved his horses, using them for the rock picking job, eliminated wasting one of his rock pickers (kids) to drive the tractor. When it was time for the trailer to move ahead Dad simply said "giddy-up" and the horses would walk straight ahead until Dad said, "Woah". One day Tootsie was acting real strange, at noon Dad sent all the kids home for lunch. Dad jumped into the trailer and drove the team straight to the neighbor's farm. Eleven months later, to the surprise and delight of most of the family, Tootsie delivered the most beautiful painted colt you ever laid eyes on. Paint was the first of four foals: Paint, Pal, Pauly, and Silver. Baby horses were a rare thing in those days.
When Art was six he attended the local country school which usually had 16 to 20 students, spread through grades one to six. Art just happened to be the only student in his grade for the first six years of his schooling. Grades seven through twelve, he attended New York Mills School; for Art it was a major adjustment going from the only one in the class to having over fifty classmates.
As a junior he was one of the starting defensive guards on the New York Mills football team. His team went undefeated that year (1961) and he was named to the all-conference team along with many of his team mates. His senior year (1962) they lost two very close games but he was again named to the all-conference team. In those days there were no playoffs or state tournaments in football.
After graduation Art worked for several months on a very large grain farm near Valley City, N.D. and after that a year as a building laborer on the addition to the New York Mills High School. When that project was completed, Art worked for Merickel Lumber until October 1965.
When he was drafted, the U. S. Army Basic Training was at Fort Leonardwood, Mo. and AIT (Advance Individual Training) at Fort Gordon, Ga. On April 18, 1966 Art left his homeland, this is where his book, "Vietnam 365 days", begins. Though it was forever on his mind, for over 40 years he seldom ever talked to anyone about what went on during his tour in Vietnam.
Upon returning from Vietnam and discharged from the Army, Art went to Wadena Vocational School for Telephone Technology on a GI Bill. Landed a job with Northwestern Bell Telephone, married his wife, Bev, and raised seven children and now has 14 grandchildren. Art retired from the phone company after 37 and a half years and lives in Guthrie, Minn.
Art will be at the New York Mills VFW Post 3289 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 24 for a book signing.
As always please see your local County Veterans Service Officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always have a great week.