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Garrett Darcy Haswell was born on April 4th, 1924 in Manhatten, New York, to mother Herta (nee Fuchs) and father George, a civil engineer. Garrett had two younger sisters, Lisa, 2 years his junior, and Wilma, 7 years his junior. Garrett's mother was a recent immigrant, with the rest of her family, from eastern Germany, who George had met in Pennsylvania (where that side of the family had put down roots) several years prior to Garrett being born. Garrett's childhood was defined by interacting with those two very different worlds, often being spoken to in German while his mother was at home and father was at work, and visiting his mother's side of the family in rural PA as much as visiting his father's. Garrett grew up fluent with both German and English, familiar with German culture. The family moved to Manhattan shortly after Lisa was born, and Haswell considers New York City his hometown, for the most part. He had a somewhat normal childhood for a middle-upper class child, going to public school growing up in the depression, insulated from at least some of the poverty on his father's side of the family, exposed to its glaring realities with his mother's rural family. He learned to be urbane in New York, and to hunt in Pennsylvania, and was an apt cheerleader in high school.
When Gary happened to turn 18, it was 1942, and there just so happened to be a war on. Volunteering for the Army wasn't totally due to rampant patriotism, for Gary (though he certainly wanted to see Germany and Japan defeated like any other red-blooded American), but in part due to the stigma an able-bodied adult would have /not/ joining the damn Army. And so, a month or so after his 18th birthday, off he went to a recruit depot to learn soldering.
During basic training the government noticed two things about Garrett that stood out. One) He was already a fine shot with a rifle (thanks to a tradition of hunting every year), and that, with a modicum of effort he could speak flawless, accentless German. That and above averages scores at basic training earned the volunteer an assignment to the SSR, and certainly more interesting, if more dangerous work. Not exactly a spy so much as a saboteur (as much difference as there might be from someone deep cover for months, and someone slipping in to explode something), Garrett spent his career during the war in between slipping behind enemy lines with a team to locate information on Hydra assets (and broadly, Nazi secrets, when they came up), and participating in raids /against/ Hydra assets (the ones that might be too small for the Howling Commandos). Like with many other soldiers, the war was a formative experience for young Gary. And while other soldiers went home from war, leaving it as an important footnote, the war was one point in a progressive timeline for Haswell. With VE and VJ days, the war ended, and Gary… didn't go back home. After all, a man who spoke German with nary an accent and intelligence experience would be rather useful to the U.S. occupying force in Germany.
With SSR adjusting to different kinds of operations, and the shifting of American intelligence needs to combat the growing spectre of communism, Haswell was pulled out of the SSR, and shuffled off into the Army's new Strategic Services Unit. The excitement and world-in-the-balance danger of stopping Hydra and the Nazi's was replaced by the more mundane, grimmer tasks of foreign intelligence gathering. Haswell, experienced with the horrors of Hydra and the war, moved like a fish from the ocean to a tributary, taking a role in spying on the East Germans, in East Germany. Protected, at times, with a flimsy official cover as an enlisted secretary to U.S. Occupying Forces in Europe (and, sometimes, not at all protected as a foreign spy with precise knowledge of German and a warm coat), Haswell did his job, standardization of deviation making things that would have shocked the green 18 year old shipping off to basic cool and easy tasks.

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