Vietnam Veteran Barry Harman comes from humble beginnings. He remembers his early life well and recalls making it through tough times growing up in poverty with the support of his large family.
“I grew up in a large family, six sisters and one brother, we were not rich by any means growing up. We made our way, but my dad was a strong man who worked in the industry and supported the family,” Harman said.
Harman first became involved in the military after his brother enlisted in the Army. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Harman also joined the military. Little did he know, he would soon face an event while stationed in Vietnam that would change his life forever.
“I got there in ’68’ in March. I caught the very last part of the 68 Tet Offensive, which was the largest offensive in that war,” Harman said.
The 68 Tet Offensive was a series of surprise attacks planned by the north Viet Cong in an attempt to take U.S. military bases and civilian cities. For Harman, he remembers these attacks all too well.
“Every major base in Vietnam was under attack at the same time in South Vietnam and it’s the way it started, just all at once, well planned,” Harman said.
The Tet Offensive, while an allied victory, took the lives of over 16,000 American soldiers in 1968 alone. Harman said the sights and sounds stick with him to this day. A time in his life where simply surviving was a daily achievement.
“It was war, a lot of rockets and mortar, that type of thing, we were just surviving,” Harman said.
After leaving Vietnam in 1969, Harman went on to help train soldiers with aircraft armament until his official retirement. But then, later in life, Harman got a chance to give back to his own family on a little farm in Monroe County.
“The farm belongs to my son and his wife, and I live about a mile down the road from here and they were very, very nervous and apprehensive when they first jumped into this to start doing this, all the unknowns wondering if it would succeed,” Harman said. “We told them that we would help all we could and we’ve been here working here every year.”
Not only is this farm a way for Harman to provide assistance to his own family, but it is also a way for him to give back to the people of the Mountain State. As the years passed, Harman found a way to honor those who also served.
“Someone who comes in who knows a veteran or they tell us they’re a veteran and they come and talk to me, we ask if we can take their name and we put it on a card and put it on the wall down here, honoring their a veteran and that fits the American flag,” Harman said. “I hope to expand that into something that is much more visible as we go along, it’s become more special to me as the years go along.”
It has been 40 years now since Harman served in the military. One thing he wants people to know before they commit to service, it is not something to be taken lightly.
“There’s an attitude of that I’m gonna go off to war and come back with all this glory and my words to them is that there’s no glory in war. War is hell and there’s no glory in it. There’s a lot of brave men, a lot of heroes, but there’s no glory in it,” Harman said.