Four Vietnam Veterans Then and Now

Tom Schaber, Gary Norton, Harry Baker and Tom Edwards have a lot in common. All four are Vietnam veterans with successful post-military careers. Tom Schaber was the first to serve in Vietnam. Arriving in 1966 as a freshly minted Marine, the 19 year old was a radio operator. He was a member of I Corp near the Demilitarized Zone. With an interest in construction while growing up on the family farm in Lindstrom, Minnesota, Tom pursued a career in carpentry after his discharge. Small projects on the farm eventually lead to the construction of custom homes in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He built the Gammelgarden Museum in Scandia, Minnesota. Tom’s wife Verna owns a hair salon in Lindstrom. They enjoy an occasional trip outside Minnesota and time at their cabin in Bear Lake, Minnesota.

In 1965 Gary Norton graduated from Officer Candidates School Quantico, Virginia before attending flight school at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. He was a Huey helicopter pilot at Marble Mountain Air Field, Da Nang, Vietnam in December, 1967. Gary completed his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969 and served fifteen years as a pilot in the Minnesota Army Air National Guard. His wife Mary has a very green thumb. Their mutual enjoyments of most things botanical lead them to establish Panola Valley Gardens in the area around their home in Lindstrom. In 2010, P.V.G. was featured on the Prairie Yard and Garden television show. The Norton family has had afternoon teas and concerts that have been well received. They enjoy music and spending time with their grandchildren.

Harry Baker completed basic training in November of 1966. In January of 1968 he was in San Diego as a plank owner (original crew member) of the U.S.S. Truxton, a frigate that had been commissioned in New Jersey. The Truxton departed San Diego on January 1, 1968 and served as a plane guard off the coast of Vietnam. Harry and his wife Judy, an award winning real estate agent, have designed, built and renovated multiple homes in Connecticut. He spent a significant portion of his career at Marino Crane as a certified O.S.H.A. crane inspector and eventually moved to the job of a contracts specialist and union negotiator. Harry was involved in the refurbishment of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York and the construction of Gate 9 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Harry retired in 2010. He and his bride of 48 years enjoy traveling and spending time with their daughters and grandchildren.

After completing basic training, 19 year old Tom Edwards arrived in An Thoi, Vietnam on September 24, 1968 as a crew member of the U.S.S. Krishna. He was a Swift Boat maintenance and repair electrician and departed Vietnam in 1969. He is a member of the Swift Boat Sailors Association. Having learned the electrical trade in Vietnam, Tom stayed with that craft subsequent to his discharge. After completing an engineering degree, he became a senior facilities engineer in the aerospace business in San Diego, California. While there he enjoyed work days that involved time in what was the largest clean room in the world in support of Atlas and Titan/Centaur satellite launch vehicles. He designed, implemented and managed an award winning environmental program and wrote articles for engineering magazines. He retired in 2005 and is now a free lance writer and photographer. His wife Cathy is a retired senior engineering illustrator and technical publications editor. They enjoy a wide variety of sports, music and travel.

-Tom Edwards