Podlaski (1951 - ) was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St.
Charles and St. Thomas Apostle catholic schools until graduating in
1969. Immediately afterwards, John started to work for one of the
automotive parts suppliers in the area and attended junior college
full-time in the fall. During the next four months, John found himself
overwhelmed by trying to jumble both work and school. At the end of the
semester, John chose income over education and dropped out of school.
This turned out to be a huge error as he had a school deferment which
protected him from the military draft. Uncle Sam wasted no time and Mr.
Podlaski soon found himself in the Army before the end of February,
1970. After a few months of training, John was sent to Vietnam in
August and was assigned to the infantry; spending time with both the
Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the 1/501st of the 101st Airborne
Division. During his tour of duty, John was awarded the Combat Infantry
Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry,
and a few other campaign medals for serving in the theatre. Back in the
states, Mr. Podlaski spent four months in Fort Hood, Texas before until
his discharge in December, 1971.
The author returned to his
former position with the automotive supplier and was promoted to
supervisor shortly afterwards. A few months later, he met Janice Jo
and they were married in 1973. They purchased a home in Sterling
Heights, MI and still live there to this day. A daughter, Nicole Ann
was born in 1979. During this same period of time, John used funds from
the GI Bill and returned to college on a part time basis; graduating
four years later with an Associate Degree in Applied Science.
1980, John started to work on a memoir about his experiences in Vietnam.
While there, he had carried a diary, and his mother saved all the
letters that he had written to her from the war zone - these were used
to build an outline. He toiled on a manual typewriter for four years
before finally completing his work. Meanwhile, Mr. Podlaski had joined
the newly formed Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 154 and helped to
launch their inaugural Color Guard, which marched in parades and posted
colors for many local events. The members of the chapter were a very
closely knit group and felt left out in many of the of the discussions
about Vietnam. When they learned that John had authored a book, the
wives had asked to read it to better understand what their husbands had
endured during their time in Vietnam. It was very well received and all
the wives said they felt closer to their spouse after reading the
manuscript. The group was very supportive and urged him to find a
publisher. After many rejections, a publisher was located in Atlanta,
who offered to consider the book if it were re-written in a
Atari had just come out with a new computer console
and word processor that made the re-write and editing much easier; his
work could now be saved on floppy diskettes. The re-write continued
until 1989. John had completed half of the manuscript and lost interest
in working on it any longer - it had been a long ten years already. So
everything was boxed up and stored in the garage.
continued to work in the automotive sector, primarily in Plant
Management positions and claims that he will retire in three more years.
John had returned to college eight years ago, and received a Bachelor
Degree in Business Administration four years later.
Last year, at
his 40th high school reunion, many of his former classmates had asked
him about his Vietnam book. John had forgotten that he had offered a
copy of his manuscript for others to read and comment on twenty years
earlier. Unbeknown to him, many of them had already read the book and
urged him to pull it out of storage and continue his work.
the diskettes to Microsoft Word was cost prohibitive; John's daughter
offered to retype the entire manuscript and then saved the document on a
memory stick. Fourteen months later, the book is finally finished and
published. It took almost thirty years to finish, but seeing it now in
print makes it all worth it.
The author and his wife own a 1997
Harley Davidson Heritage motorcycle and enjoy riding when possible; both
are members of the Great Lakes Chapter of the Harley Owner Group.