Stories From the War
Welcome to our Stories From the War section where we are honored to welcome guest writers to our website. We are very fortunate to have some distinguished veterans and authors contributing to our website, sharing some of their stories in this section. Below you can read their stories about their service during the war, what happened and how it happened. Some of them also offer their thoughts on coming back to Vietnam decades later to visit the places where they once fought. Over time we hope to add more stories to this section. We also offer the possibility to purchase the books written by some of those who have contributed to our website.
Below you will find the introductions to them, links to their stories that they have chosen to share with us. We hope you will enjoy the reading and learn from those who were there so shape the history.
During the Vietnam War I enlisted in the Army as a private. I was commissioned as an Infantry Lieutenant upon completion of Officer Candidate School at 20 years old. I was assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. Initially I was the Executive Officer, later assumed additional duty of Rifle Platoon Leader. While in Viet Nam I served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Rifle Company Commander, including combat operations incidental to the Tet ‘68 Offensive.
Upon returning from Vietnam I graduated from Georgetown University and worked in real estate while going to law school at night. While practicing law I also worked in real estate and mortgage banking for about 30 years and finally achieved my lifetime ambition to be a high school history teacher.
Several readers have asked me about the genesis of the two articles, Cone of Violence and The Day Smith Died. The Day Smith Died was written first many years ago, probably right after I saw the mini-series Gettysburg on television for the first time. Watching it, I was struck by the similarities in courage of the Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, MOH, and the VC Province Chief I had run into near Phan Thiet, RVN. So, I wrote the article soon after. While I have never regretted shooting the Province Chief, I have almost always regretted the necessity that required me to shoot him. It was probably the death of Jim Bunn and Smith, and the killing of the Province Chief that drove me from the Army—I have always hated killing people.
Click on below links to read John’s stories:
Both “Cone of Violence” and “The day Smith died” can be found in John Harrison’s book Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968. Click on below link to purchase the book:
Glyn Haynie served for twenty years in the U.S. Army, retiring March 1, 1989. During his career, he served as an infantry squad leader, an infantry platoon sergeant, and later as a drill instructor, a first sergeant, and an instructor at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA).
He was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (2nd award), Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal (3rd award), Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, French Commando Badge, Drill Instructor Badge and Army Recruiting Badge during his 20 year service in the Army.
After retirement, he completed his Bachelor of Science Computer Information Systems and a Master of Arts Computer Resources and Information Management. He worked as a software engineer/project manager for eight years and then taught for Park University as a full-time instructor and as an adjunct instructor for 13 years.
He is the author of When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir and Soldiering After the Vietnam War: Changed Soldiers in a Changed Country.
Read Glyn’s story on his service and returning to Vietnam almost 50 yeasrs later here>>>
To purchase Glyn Haynie’s books, click on below links:
R.B. “Rick” Liebendorfer
U.S. Army Jan 1969-Dec 1971, MOS 16F C Battery 1/44th ADA “Dusters” July 1969- Dec 1970 Sgt. Track C221( in country 18 months.) The picture below shows Rick Liebendorfer outside a school during his visit back to Mai Loc in October 2017.
My base camp on arrival was at the “Vinh Dai rock crusher”, approximately 6 km west of Dong Ha off Hwy 9. There were 16 tracks in our Battery, 2 platoons of 8 tracks each. We deployed normally with two tracks in support of each other. The two tracks made up a “Section” manned by usually 4 Crewmen & 1 Sergeant per track. A “Section Chief” was in command of the two track “Squad”. Our A/O stretched along the DMZ, rotating between most positions on a regular basis. We had fixed post at Camp JJ Carroll, Khe Gio Bridge, LZ Stud (Vandergrift), Rock Pile, Cua Viet Bridge and of course, Mai Loc. We participated with security of fixed post, convoy and mine sweep details and numerous special operations. On my 1 year anniversary of being “in country”, our unit was pulled out of Quang Tri province and re-headquartered south in Chu Lai, Quang Ngai province. I spent my last six months between FSB 4-11 and LZ Crunch. I returned alone (as was the same in 1969) for a visit in October 2017. I was able to return to each position I had worked at 48 years prior, with the exception of LZ Crunch (Near Minh Long, Quang Ngai Province.) I wanted to save a post for my next visit to that beautiful country. I remain an optimist. Read Rick’s story about his service and returning 48 years later here>>>
John Podlaski (1951 – ) was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St. Charles and St. Thomas Apostle Catholic schools, graduating in 1969. Immediately afterward, John started working for one of the automotive parts suppliers in the area and then attended junior college full-time in the fall. After four months of overwhelming pressure, John dropped out of college – choosing income over education. This turned out to be a huge error in judgement as a school deferment protected him from the military draft.
Uncle Sam wasted no time and Mr. Podlaski soon found himself inducted into the Army in February 1970. Then after six months of training, John was sent to Vietnam as an infantry soldier; serving with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the Geronimo 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 several other campaign medals.
Back in the states, Mr. Podlaski spent the next four months in Fort Hood, Texas before receiving an early military discharge in December 1971. The War Veteran returned to his former position with the automotive supplier and because of his military experience, he was promoted to shift supervisor. He met Janice Jo a few months later and married in 1973. The G.I. Bill helped them to purchase a home in Sterling Heights, MI, they continue living there to this day. A daughter, Nicole Ann was born in 1979. Using additional benefits from the G.I. Bill, Mr. Podlaski returned to college part time; graduating four years later with an Associate Degree in Applied Science. In 1980, John began working on his memoir about his Vietnam experiences. He had carried a diary during his year in Vietnam, and his mother had saved all the letters he had written from the war zone – both were used to create the outline. He toiled on a manual typewriter for four years before finally completing his work.
About the same time, a new national veteran group, akin to the V.F.W. was formed in Washington, DC. They called themselves “Vietnam Veterans of America” and chapters quickly sprung up around the country. John joined Chapter 154 in Mt. Clemens, MI, and as an active member, helped to launch their inaugural Color Guard – marching in parades and posting colors for local events. The members of this chapter were a closely knit group, but wives often felt left out during the many discussions about Vietnam. When learning that John had authored a book about his tour of duty, the wives asked to share a copy of the manuscript, hoping it would help them better understand what their husbands might have endured during their time in Vietnam.
The memoir was well received, and wives were now joining their men during these discussions. All were increasingly supportive and urged him to locate a publisher. After hundreds of rejections, a publisher from Atlanta, GA finally came forward and offered to consider the manuscript if it were re-written to a third-person format. Atari had just come out with a new computer console and a word processor – making re-writes and editing much easier; his work now saved on floppy diskettes. The re-write continued until 1989, consuming all his spare time.
John had finished half of the manuscript, then suddenly lost interest – discouraged, and not wanting to work on it any longer – it was ten years already and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. So everything was boxed up and moved to the garage for storage.
Mr. Podlaski continued working for various companies within the automotive sector; primarily in Management roles tasked in either plant start-ups, financial turnaround, or plant closures. John returned to college in 2000 and received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration two years later. He and his wife retired in mid-2013. At John’s 40th high school reunion, many of his former classmates who read his original manuscript twenty years earlier had questioned its lack of publication. It was a great story and all were relentless in their efforts to get him motivated and finish the rewrite – offering help wherever needed. After learning that the conversion of Atari diskettes to the Microsoft Word format was extremely cost prohibitive, John’s daughter offered to retype both the completed manuscript and the rewrite, saving both on a USB memory stick.
Nine months later, “Cherries” was completed and published. It took almost thirty years, but seeing it in print made it all worthwhile. During his retirement, John published a second book about his Vietnam experience called, “When Can I Stop Running?” in 2016; both are available on Amazon. The author and his wife own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage motorcycle and enjoy riding when possible; both are members of the Harley Owner Group.
If you are interested in receiving a “Kindlegraph” for either of his two books (a personal autograph for your kindle), use this URL, search out the authors’ name and then post your request. Your signed document will be sent to you via e-mail. www dot kindlegraph dot com
John continues to write and share stories about the war, his own and by guest writers on his website, it is one of the most active and content rich websites on the subject and has thousands of followers. https://cherrieswriter.com/
Read John’s story on this website here >>>
To purchase John’s books in either Kindle edition or paperback, please click on links below:
Tom Lacombe author of “Light Ruck, Vietnam 1969”, grew up in Landover Hills, MD, and was drafted in 1968. He served as a rifleman in the Fourth Infantry Division. Tom now lives in Browntown, where he runs O.J. Rudacille Gen. Mdse., a country store that has served the village since 1884.
Tom also raises Christmas trees and sheep. Light Ruck tells the story of Tom’s tour in Vietnam. Many people didn’t want to hear about the war when he came home, so Tom took up writing. Through “Light Ruck” Tom hopes to open the eyes of some to the honorable service of the soldiers he served with in Vietnam.
“Light Ruck” takes the reader up close to the every day life of a jungle warrior in Vietnam. Humping the jungle, up and down endless hills, the heat, the smell and the danger lurking behind every bush. It is a true and honest account of the horrors and also excitement that the young soldiers faced every day of their tours.
If you want to purchase Tom’s book please click on the link below:
The Fall of Saigon
This is the account of April 30th 1975, the day Saigon fell, through the eyes of a young South Vietnamese Navy Officer. In 1969 Trang joined the South Vietnamese Navy. After several trips to USA where he underwent advanced training, he then spent six months on a ship during the Operation Market Time that was an ongoing operation to prevent the North Vietnamese from bringing in supplies and soldiers to South Vietnam via the sea.
As the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, he and his colleagues could see it was soon all over. His story is one of thousands of how events unravelled that day. This is how he remembers it.
Click here to read his story: >>>