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Cherries : A Vietnam War Novel Paperback – April 20, 2010
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Cherries weds a matchless sense of dramatics with the ability to tell a marvelous story. You have staged excellent, realistic action with convincing effect. Cherries has a compelling magnetic quality. --Manuscripts International
As an avid reader of many historical memoirs, both fiction and autobiographical, rarely have I found one as in depth and revealing as Mr. Podlaski's work.
--Bernie Weisz, Vietnam War Historian
One 'read' will not be enough. You will want to pass through the pages of "Cherries" more than once just to savor the up close and personal story again.
--Jerry Kunnath, author
John Podlaski has created a moving narrative that carries conviction in its sincerity and point of view. It is recommended for its high-voltage narrative style, contemporary interest, and human drama."
--Carlton Press, Inc, 1985
"Intense, provocative, mesmerizing, emotional, heartfelt--John takes you with him to Vietnam. You feel the fear, the awe, the drama, the bravery, the sorrow, and sometimes even the humor of young men in battle." --Jerome Kunnath, Author
"This author has come closer than 99% of other attempts by rival authors to duplicate the vicarious experience of what it was like to be an "FNG" during America's participation in the Vietnam War!"
-- Bernie Weisz. Vietnam War Historian
From the Author
"Cherries" is getting excellent reviews on both Amazon and my personal blog. I'm hearing from spouses and children of Veterans who have read my book out of curiosity because their father/husband will not talk about his war experiences. They are using it as a conduit to help open doors, locked for decades. As a result, veterans are beginning to share memories - both good and bad - with family members, and thanking me for "putting into words a story that they've been unable to tell until now". Career soldiers and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are responding that they can relate to those experiences within "Cherries", saying that it's a different time, different country, different war, but not much has changed over the years.
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This book tells what it is like to live as an infantryman in the Jungle. If someone wants to find this out then read this book.
This book also demonstrates how some individuals like Polack are quiet heroes, they do their job, they are steady and they save lives and yet they are real heroes and warriors. Those who have been to war really truly understand this. No one in the world knows who these people are , what they have really done and how "tough" they really are but in war they demonstrate their heroism and toughness. Those who were with them never know what heroes they really are - I know it , it is there in John's book. Polack is a real hero.
John explains to us about the insanity of war. He tells us how the colonel's and generals and some captains were on an insane quest for body count of the enemy, even though this quest subjected the infantrymen to torturous hell on earth to first find the enemy and second engage the enemy in savage battles, and most of the time resulting in killed or wounded of our own soldiers. John clearly shows that these quests were purely insane particularly in the jungle environment of Vietnam. It made no sense.
It is clear after reading this book , our lives should be spent enjoying the small things and moment by moment. John shows us how mail from home , gifts (cans of fruit) and small breaks from the constant hunt for the enemy were treasured by soldiers. The mere fact that a soldier can rest for the moment and is alive to think of home , to talk with friends to enjoy a moment of peace was the infantryman's link to reality. A small moment , a break from the hell of war where the soldier's mind can rest a few moments makes it possible for the infantryman to continue on in the war's insanity. And when those soldiers go back to the world, most have carried this special ability with them. Enjoy the moment life, is precious moment by moment. It is a clear lesson from this book.
One gets the impression that John himself was really never a Cherry. He came from the world tough and "steady." He learned quickly , he listened to others and quickly became a good soldier. He could take it - whatever came his way , getting wounded , getting snake bit , coming close to getting blown up and worst of all losing his friends. But he had to do what was necessary and in the end became a warrior saving many lives and taking care of soldiering business the right way , the way of survival.
You will like this book , it is easy to read and it does not preach about politics or religion. It simply tells it like it was. It is an important part of history that should not be forgotten, it paints a picture of no doubt the fiercest combat experience history we will ever know , there will never be another war like it. As John says in the book , "Vietnam infantrymen will go straight to heaven when they die because they have already been to hell in Vietnam."
Decades later I found out that the average World War II veteran spent 40 days in combat; the soldiers who fought in Vietnam averaged over 200 days in combat. The difference was that the World War II GI had to walk to battle. Vietnam veterans flew by helicopter and could be where they had to be in minutes. And when we went in, we often went in hot.
John Podlaski has done an awesome job of describing the experience of our infantry. He served with both the 25th Infantry Division down around Saigon and then with the 101st Airborne up on the DMZ.
I think the most damning thing I read in "Cherries" relates to the leadership we had in Vietnam. I joined the 101st in 1966 in the Central Highlands, four years before John got to Vietnam. As you read the book, you'll understand my comment that, "I had never heard of mechanicals until I read John's book (a method of ambushing enemy troops)." John learned about them when he went out with the 25th. When he had to transfer to the 101st as a Specialist E4 (corporal), he found out that the airborne guys knew nothing about mechanicals. What was our military leadership doing? Why wasn't this type of ambush a common part of all infantry training?
Again, if you'd like to get a realistic understanding of what the fighting in Vietnam was like for our soldiers, read this book.