Vern Haugland was born in Minnesota in 1908 and in 1913 moved with his family to Montana where he graduated from high school. He attended the University of Washington for two years, then received his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Montana in 1931. He worked with local Montana papers before joining the Associated Press' (AP) Salt Lake City Bureau. In 1938, he was transferred to the Los Angeles Bureau and with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Vern volunteered for overseas duty. He was the first AP reporter to arrive in Brisbane, Australia. On August 7, 1942, the B26 in which he was traveling ran out of fuel, forcing the crew and Vern to bail out over New Guinea. Haugland wrote a book, "Letter From New Guinea," about his forty-seven days in the New Guinea jungles, for which he received a silver star. He continued to cover the war in the Pacific and in 1945 became an "Air Correspondent." With this group he was one of the first to arrive in Shanghai and later as one of the first to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war, Haugland was assigned to cover the Indonesian Revolution, but was forced to return to the United States in 1946 after contracting jaundice. He was then assigned to the AP's Washington Bureau and in 1951 took over the position as the aviation editor, eventually covering NASA's "splashdown" missions. After twenty-one years as the chief aviation correspondent, Mr. Haugland retired in 1973, moved to San Clemente, California, and wrote two books on the Eagle Squadrons. He was working on a third book (which his wife later completed) when he had a heart attack and died in September of 1984.
From the description of Vern Haugland collection, 1940-1987. (US Air Force Academy). WorldCat record id: 744462755
Vern Haugland was born May 27, 1908, to Olaus and Hannah Haugland of Litchfield, Minnesota, the eighth of eleven children. In 1913, the family moved to a ranch in Meagher County, Montana. After graduating from Gallatin High School, Haugland attended the University of Washington for two years, and finished his degree at the State University of Montana in Missoula in 1931, receiving his BA in Journalism. He then worked for two years with the Missoula Sentinel and the Daily Missoulian . In 1933, he moved to Butte, Montana, and worked as a general reporter for The Montana Standard, and in 1936 Haugland joined the Associated Press' Salt Lake City Bureau. Two years later he transferred to the Los Angeles Bureau. While there he was given the assignment of dating the ten most eligible ladies of Hollywood.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Haugland volunteered for overseas duty. He was the first AP reporter to arrive in Brisbane, Australia. On August 7, 1942 the B26 bomber, the Martin Marauder, that Haugland was traveling in ran out of fuel, forcing him and the crew to bail out over New Guinea. Haugland was lost in the New Guinea jungle for 47 days. He wrote a book, Letter From New Guinea, about his experiences in 1943. In recognition for his heroism, General MacArthur pinned a Silver Star on Haugland on October 1, while he was still delirious from starvation and exhaustion. Haugland was the first civilian to receive the Silver Star. After recovering, he continued to cover the war in the Pacific. He returned to the United States in mid-1944 for a short stay, during which he married his long-time sweetheart, Tesson McMahon. He and Tess had two daughters, Taya and Marcia. Towards the end of the war, Haugland became an Air Correspondent with the Associated Press. This special group of correspondents were the first to arrive in Shanghai and visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the dropping of the atomic bombs. At the end of the war, he was assigned to cover the Indonesian Revolution.
He was forced to return to the United States in March of 1946 after contracting jaundice. Haugland was assigned to the AP's Washington Bureau and in 1951 took over as aviation editor. Starting in the 1950s until his retirement, he covered the NASA space program. NASA called him "the world's most experienced splashdown reporter." Haugland retired from the AP in 1973 and moved with his wife Tess to San Clemente, California. Haugland never retired from writing, though. He wrote two books on the Eagle Squadrons, a group of American men during World War II who flew for the British before America entered the war. He was finishing the third book when he died on September 15, 1984. His wife finished the book for him.
From the guide to the Vern Haugland Papers, 1908-1987, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)