The Amazing Doug Harvey

One of our eldest DN sailors and a former Commodore, Michigan’s Doug Harvey US1202, was recently in the news about his role in 84th Infantry Division during WW2.

“You gave me my life,” Sophie Tajch Klisman, a survivor of the Holocaust, told Doug Harvey, a World War II veteran, on the street in front of her home Monday, with media cameras recording and clicking. “You gave me a lot, and I can’t believe it!”

“Well, I was only one of thousands,” Harvey told her, recalling how the United States and its allies fought to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe more than 70 years ago. “You’re like the only one left,” he said, referring to the passing of many of the Holocaust generation. Read more.

The story prompted Daniel Hearn to remember how Doug Harvey also had an impact on his life and ice sailing.

Doug is an amazing man in many ways. I wrote the following story about Doug back in 2009.

Bands of Brothers

The #10 envelope caught my eye in the stack of mail. It was addressed with a typewriter. I only see them now in the offices of laptop-using writers who display them as some sort of romantic reflection of their craft. A dot matrix generated the return address and the postage was 14 cent Iceboat 1880’s stamps. Inside was a neatly typed letter with the formal elegance I recalled from my 7th grade typing class. It was charming in an age when most of our communication is abbreviated gibberish exchanged between hand-held devices. But right there under the author’s city, state and zip was an e-mail address. Just who was this Douglas J. Harvey, and what was with all these intriguing dichotomies?

“I met Bart in 1972 when I was in Europe with the first large group of (US) DN sailors to make the trip.” The letter explained that the two didn’t know each other yet, but they were not far apart in 1944 when Doug was in the Infantry as part of the northern-most troops of the US Army. I did the math. 2009 – 1944 = 65…so, if he were 18 when he began to serve our country, that would make Doug about 83 or 84.

Doug lives in Michigan. Bart Reedijk, who is Dutch, now lives in Germany. Both are active ice sailors. No, not former ice sailors… active ice sailors, TODAY! In fact, Doug is the 2009 Bronze Fleet North American Champion. And for the record, Doug is 84. Although on different continents, Doug and Bart have traveled and raced together on both sides of the pond for decades. They are a Band of Brothers.

The two decided they wanted to do something very special for the sport. So, enclosed was a very generous donation to the North American Ice Opti Racing Association with no earmarks. The letter simply stated, “Use this donation to promote youth ice sailing in any way your organization feels appropriate.”

This little story reminded me that my own love of the sport has as much to do with the camaraderie, the friendships, and the connections that can last a lifetime, as the racing itself. Although not unique to the DN, the size of the class and the geographic distribution tend to make the bands more pronounced. In my relatively brief time in the DN, I’ve already come to know many: the Twin Cities gang; the Lake Geneva contingent; the Pewaukee crew; the legendary Detroit group; the masters of hospitality from Traverse City; the Toledo boys; the Lake Wawasee squadron. And I’m starting to get to know some of great people from the east.

One day I hope to beat Matt Struble and Ron Sherry in even a single race. I might not ever get there, but the funny thing is that it doesn’t really matter. I’m enjoying the journey with my own Band of Brothers. And I’m grateful to Brothers such as Doug and Bart who are helping to ensure that there will be future generations of ice sailors forming bands of their own.
Daniel Hearn US5352