Loveland Reporter-Herald

Loveland father, daughter collaborat­e on war memoir

By Tamara Markard

- Tmarkard@greeleytri­

While it’s been nearly 70 years since the start of the Vietnam War, the conflict is still one of the most hotly contested episodes in American history.

The war began in November 1955 and took place in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until the fall of Saigon in April 1975, reports the History Channel. It pitted North Vietnam against South Vietnam and resulted in the deaths of four million Vietnamese citizens and over 58,000 Americans. Millions more U.S. soldiers and military personnel serving in the war returned home with injuries — both physical and mental.

For veterans who served in a war, talking about their experience can be difficult, especially when it comes to veterans of the Vietnam War.

The horrors and tragedies they saw can’t often be easily explained to the layperson, with many Vietnam vets commenting “you just had to be there.”

It’s that unexplaina­ble understand­ing that Loveland resident Mike Hardy wanted to record when he and his daughter, Marie Burghard, sat down to write his memoir, “177 Days.”

Sitting at the dining room table in Hardy’s Loveland home, the veteran pulls out a giant binder filled with photos, newspaper clippings and other artifacts from his time in Vietnam.

Watching him flip through the pages, you can see his mind transport back to that time when he was a mere 19-year-old draftee in the Army in 1969.

“I turned 20 in Vietnam. I was in both Vietnam and Korea,” he said. “A lot of people went to Canada, tried to fail their physical, was a conscienti­ous objector or went to jail to avoid the draft.”

As with many wars, Hollywood puts its own spin on the story for movies, which can make audience members wonder what’s real and what’s embellishe­d.

“Those kinds of movies are made to hold the audience’s attention and terrify you,” Hardy said. “There’s only one movie that really got to me and hardly anyone knows of it. It’s called ‘84C Mopic,’ it’s like a B movie. I had to get up and turn it off a couple of times.”

In his book, Hardy writes about not just the combat he faced, but the animals he encountere­d — including a tiger — the love story between he and the girl he left behind at home, meeting his father in the most unusual of situations — during a war — and how he struggled to adjust to civilian life after being discharged.

“It was a lot of chaos. You had the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese, and you couldn’t tell them apart. It was a civil war and you wouldn’t know by looking,” Hardy said. “There was an accent difference between the North and South Vietnamese that you had to know in order to tell who was who.”

The book includes photos Hardy was able to snap during his service as well as maps of the area, giving readers a visual into his experience in Vietnam.

Hardy has always had a knack for storytelli­ng, Burghard said. She recalls sitting and listening to her dad tell stories about his time in Vietnam and being in awe of her dad’s experience.

“They were all handpicked stories and he never told the story in order,” Burghard explained. “Of course as kids, he didn’t tell us all of the stories.”

As she got older, recording her dad’s history in written word became more and more important. After convincing Hardy to write the book, they sat down over the course of four years and talked … and talked … and talked some more.

“There was always stuff we forgot and added in and edits,” Burghard said. “Really

this was just supposed to be for him and just for family.”

However, after more and more people read the book, more and more people heard about it and wanted it.

“It’s ended up going way further than we expected it to. It’s touched a lot of people’s lives,” Burghard said. “People who have been there have told dad and me, ‘I know that he’s been there; that’s exactly how it was and happened.’”

The book tells Hardy’s story of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of everyday accounts during the war, Burghard said.

“We learned how to work together to get the story right. Sometimes what he would want to say had to be interprete­d to make more sense,” Burghard said, laughing.

The book is not political in any way, Hardy said. It’s just an account of his experience in Vietnam.

“Everyone picks up on different things in the book. Some people pick up on the love story between my parents while others pick up on the food or what sleeping was like,” Burghard said. “Everyone just seems to connect with a different piece of it.”

The book is available for purchase for $15 in paperback at Amazon, Walmart, Porchlight and Barnes and Noble.

The book is also available to checkout at the Loveland Public Library.

To learn more about Mike Hardy and his book, go to

 ?? TAMARA MARKARD — STAFF REPORTER ?? Marie Burghard, left, and her father, Mike Hardy worked together to create the memoir, “117 Days,” which details Hardy’s experience in the Vietnam War.
TAMARA MARKARD — STAFF REPORTER Marie Burghard, left, and her father, Mike Hardy worked together to create the memoir, “117 Days,” which details Hardy’s experience in the Vietnam War.

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