The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council (DAWVC) has named U.S. Army veteran Arthur Garrison as Dearborn’s Veteran of the Year.
Garrison was honored at the City’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Avenue.
Dearborn’s Veteran of the Year is selected by a committee of past recipients of the honor. The winner is chosen based on the initiative of helping others, especially veterans, as well as personal qualities of honor, leadership, compassion, and commitment.
Garrison entered the Army because his mother made him.
“I got drafted by my mother,” he said. “She was the draft clerk in Dearborn at the time. She drafted my brother, my sister into the Air Force, and then me.”
Garrison served in the Army as an enlisted 5 specialist, a rank similar to a sergeant, from 1967-70. He completed basic training at Fort Knox and was then sent to Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where he went to communication school to become a teletype repairman.
In early 1968, he landed in Vietnam. “It was during the TET Offensive, so when I first landed, there were rockets and mortars being lobbed into the hangars,” he said.
During his time in Vietnam, his main assignment was as a teletype repairman with the 5th Maintenance Battalion, with the 1st Logistics Command. He and one other soldier would drive around in a jeep across the open and often treacherous terrain of Vietnam as they rushed to assist the artillery units that needed their technical expertise.
“The artillery units loved us,” he said. “They couldn’t do their job without us doing our job first.”
Garrison said he was sometimes nervous or scared driving from unit to unit, but that overall he was just doing his job.
“I got lucky, and I’m happy and thankful,” he said. “I wasn’t an infantryman. I wasn’t out in the bush every night. I did have guard duty for a bit, and we got shot at. We used to say ‘we owned the day and they owned the night.’”
After leaving Vietnam in 1969, Garrison was stationed in Granite City, Illinois and worked a burial detail at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
“That wasn’t the greatest job,” said Garrison. “But you did what you had to do.”
From there it was on to Ft. McCoy for 90 days to work on communication equipment. He left the Army in 1970 to come home to Dearborn.
Upon returning from the Army, Garrison completed a few semesters at Henry Ford Community College before transferring to finish college in Wisconsin, where he completed a bachelor’s in mass communication.
After coming home for good from college in the mid-1970s, Garrison got a job bartending at the iconic Dearborn establishment, Miller’s Bar, before going on to work at Ford Motor Company as a metal model maker for 30 years before retiring.
He has been married to his wife, Bobbi, for 42 years, and they have a son, Peter, and daughter, Amanda, and two grandchildren.
Veterans Member Organizations
Garrison has been involved in the veteran’s community in Dearborn for 35 years. He is a founding member of the James Huard Chapter 267 Vietnam Veterans of America; has been with the American Legion Chapter 364 for 35 years, is an active member of VFW 1494 & 2107, is part of Disabled American Veterans 51, DAWVC, and is Chairman of UAW 245 Veterans Committee. All are based in Dearborn.
He has also been the sergeant of arms, on the board of directors, and on the election committee for VVA 267; and for the past five years has been the quartermaster for VFW 2107.
In the years since returning from the Army, Garrison realized that he and his fellow veterans needed help. He believes today’s veterans are lucky to have resources now and that back then, a lot of veterans around his age had to turn to what he called “self-medication” to numb the pain from war.