We should all be so lucky to live a long, fruitful life on this earth, and be surrounded by family and friends when landmark moments take place.
Outlook resident Art Hauberg may be one of those people, as Art has recently marked an incredible 99 years. With that, Outlook Branch #262 of the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to help Art celebrate his momentous age by honoring him with a special birthday party on Friday evening, March 8 at the Legion Hall.
The party took place as part of the Legion’s normal Friday Night Social event, which welcomes people to come, drink, eat, play games and visit after the end of the work week. Joining Art for his birthday was family, including his niece Virginia from Wakaw, as well as her brother Garth.
The beef on a bun supper filled bellies and the birthday cake was a sweet treat, and parts of the hall itself have never looked better, particularly after the kitchen saw extensive renovations thanks in part to a $5000 grant from Dakota Dunes.
To some, it may have looked like a normal birthday party, but for the members of Branch #262, it was an opportunity to celebrate a man who served his country in times of combat, as Hauberg is a veteran of the Second World War; he served Canada as a Private with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.
“It’s an honor to celebrate him and his service to Canada,” said John McPhail, Branch Secretary. “We’re really honored to do this, and it’s really important to us to have Branch #262 do this for Art.”
Born on the family farm near Glenside on March 7, 1920, Art is the son of Norwegian immigrants, and like many other people of his generation, he and his family weathered the storm that was the Great Depression. However, in Hauberg’s eyes, there didn’t really seem to be anything wrong with life at the time because he had nothing to compare it to, and his family always had enough to eat on the farm.
At home, Hauberg decided that he needed to enlist after he began hearing reports of Adolf Hitler’s aggressive and violent invasion of European countries. Art answered the call and enlisted in Saskatoon in June 1941 when he was 21 years old, and he was instructed in basic carpentry at the city’s Tech School before he was transferred to Regina for three months of basic training.
By the spring of 1942, Hauberg was aboard a ship headed for Scotland, sailing into the great unknown that was World War II. He and his group arrived at the Allied training facility near Greenock, and as members of the Army Service Corps, they were responsible for holding, moving and issuing all food, ammunition and any other necessary equipment to the fighting troops. In order to move supplies into the battle zone, the Corps was equipped with a variety of vehicles, including trucks varying in weight from three to ten tons, as well as 40-ton tank transporters. As well, the Corps also transported troops, and worked with engineers to construct and repair roads for the army’s advance, or filled in shell craters or anti-tank ditches and constructed what were called ‘Bailey Bridges’, a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge.
It was these kinds of jobs that put the Army Service Corps at what many call the ‘sharp end’ of the battlefield.
During his time in the war, Hauberg was also part of the liberation of both Italy and Holland from German forces. The fierce fighting by the combined American, British and Canadian troops saw the German army driven north and eventually out of Italy, and over 60,000 troops and support personnel were relocated to Holland, where they assisted in the final stages of the campaign to liberate the Dutch people who had suffered so greatly.
Art himself may have played a pivotal role when he drove dignitaries to the official ceremony at Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen, where Canadian General Charles Foulkes officially accepted the capitulation of Germany on May 6, 1945. Hauberg remembers how quickly food arrived after the German surrender, with planes even dropping food from the sky. To this day, the Dutch people have maintained a deep and abiding affection for Canadians ever since the end of the Second World War.
After Art’s time in the war, he returned home to Saskatchewan, arriving just after the harvest season in 1945. He settled into life as a farmer, and has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for nearly 60 years, first in Hawarden and followed by Outlook.
For the Outlook Legion branch, Art’s 99th birthday was the perfect chance to give this humble World War II veteran a proper salute, perhaps reminding the rest of us that the contributions of Canada’s veterans should never be forgotten, particularly when there are getting to be fewer and fewer World War II veterans as time passes us all by.