After missing the Vietnam War draft, Harry Verrette has always regretted it. Still wanting to serve his country, Verrette joined the National Guard and he was proud of the work he was able to accomplish for six years.

BY Aaron Gonsoulin

The daily iberian

It felt like a punch in the stomach for Harry Verrette and his friends.

At the end of the Vietnam War in 1972, Verrette and a group of his closest friends attempted to serve their country but were denied due to the end of the war.

“I tried to join the Army when the draft was ending but they would not take us,” Verrette said. “So I went into the National Guard and they accepted us and I went and served my six years in the National Guard.”

Doing his part

Verrette said he wanted to do his part for his country one way or another, and the National Guard was the best option for him and his friends.

“We were looking to go to war, but that didn’t happen,” Verrette said. “The war ended and they weren’t drafting any more people, and that’s what they told us so we went ahead and got into the National Guard and we served our time.”

A lifelong dream

Growing up, Verrette always wanted to join the Army and when he was told he couldn’t, it was one of the worst feelings he’s ever experienced.

“It was as if somebody punched me in the stomach,” Verrette said. “When they told us they weren’t taking anyone, it felt like a big punch in the stomach.”

As part of the National Guard, Verrette traveled to various locations for basic training which included Oklahoma, a place that is especially memorable to Verrette.

“It was grounds I have never been on,” Verrette said of the Sooner State. “I was down there in an SUV and we had to go hide from the military.”

As part of the training, Verrette said they were asked to “hide” from the Army, a tactic used to see how well they could elude the enemy if that occasion ever arose.

“We started a day and a half in the heat, and they never found us,” Verrette said.” “That was part of the training — to see if you could hide and not be found.”

New opportunities

After breaking his leg, Verrette received a medical discharge after serving six years in the National Guard and continued working offshore fulltime.

Eventually, Verrette started and opened his own business, Electrical Innovators, in New Iberia.

Electrical Innovators is a member of EASA (Electric Apparatus Service Association Inc.) and has over 30 years experience working on electric motors, pumps, generators and other related services, Verrette said.

“I put it this way: ‘If you bring it, I will repair it,’” Verrette said. “That’s what I tell everybody.”

Verrette started his company when a lot of people were losing their jobs in the oilfield, and he said it’s been thriving ever since.

Though he has since retired from the National Guard, Verrette still regrets not being able to join the Army to help fight in the Vietnam War.

On every Fourth of July, Verrette still makes an effort to celebrate America’s independence.

“I just try to go out and enjoy with everybody,” Verrette said. “Just get out and enjoy the people.”

Taking pride

And like the thousands of veterans before him and after him, Verrette takes great pride and joy in serving his country, no matter the capacity.

“It makes me very proud and honored,” Verrette said. “I served in the military and I couldn’t get in the Army like I really wanted to but I am happy with what I’ve done because now the National Guard is almost everything.”

The National Guard helps fight wars overseas and helps keep American cites safe, Verrette is one of many to be a part of that brotherhood.

“It’s nice,” Verrette said. “The National Guard has come a long way.”

Thanking so many

No matter the branch, Verrette thanks any and all who have fought for their country throughout the years.

“They are good people, they have served their country,” Verrette said. “A lot of them have gone to war and I haven’t and I think they are excellent and great people.”

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