In 1970, John Kowalski is one of many young, naive teenage soldiers sent to Vietnam to fight in an unpopular war. Dubbed “Cherries” by their more seasoned peers, these newbies suddenly found themselves thrust into the middle of a terrible nightmare – literally forced to become men overnight. On-the-job-training is intense, however, most of these teenagers were hardly ready to absorb the harsh mental, emotional, and physical stress of war. When coming under enemy fire for the first time and witnessing death first-hand, a life changing transition begins…one that can’t be reversed.
The author is an excellent story teller, readers testify that they are right there with the characters, joining them in their quest for survival, sharing the fear, awe, drama and sorrow, witnessing bravery and sometimes, even laughing at their humor. It’s a story that is hard to put down.
When soldiers return home from war, all are different – changed for life. “Cherries” tells it like it is and when finished, readers will better understand what these young men have to endure, and why change is imminent. All of these veterans should be embraced, welcomed home and thanked for their service. Vietnam vets and anyone who has been a young soldier in any war will appreciate the sentiments here.
This book contains content that may not be suitable for young readers 14 and under.
Cherries is a work of fiction. Although the places and units actually existed, they are used by the author in a fictitious manner for this work. All characters in this work are fictional. Any names or characteristics to any person past, present, or future are purely coincidental.
Finalist in Sixth International Literary Awards at Washington State College, 1986 (titled The Ingenuous Soldier).
**Audio Book awarded “Best of 2012” **
–Manuscripts International, 1987
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
“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.
Click on the following link to read the first six chapters for free: cherries_six chapter sample 7_19-11
Click on this link to watch/listen to excerpts of my audiobook linked to Vietnam photos: https://youtu.be/WDl5fUVaqFE
John Podlaski’s encore Vietnam War novel brings back John (‘Polack’) Kowalski, the central character in ‘Cherries’, and introduces us to Louis (‘LG’) Gladwell, his irrepressible black friend. Polack and LG are a ‘Salt and Pepper’ team, best buddies and brothers in a way that only those who have fought side-by-side in a war can ever truly understand.
The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers – impressionable Detroit teenagers – during their long night in a Listening Post (‘LP’), some 500 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a “human early warning system”, is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the “Iron Triangle” and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as “bait for the enemy” and “sacrificial lambs”.
Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle – with visibility at less than two feet – John’s imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories – innocent, but equally terrifying at the time.
As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.
In ‘When Can I Stop Running?‘ the author juxtaposes his nightmarish hours in the bush with some of his most heart-pounding childhood escapades. Readers will relate to the humorous childish antics with amusement; military veterans will find themselves relating to both of the entertaining and compelling recollections.
“In a brilliant follow-up to his novel “Cherries,” John Podlaski weaves frightening events of his youth into a vivid depiction of a terrifying night as an infantryman on a Listening Post during the Vietnam War.”
– Joe Campolo, Jr., Authorof “The Kansas NCO” and “Back To the World.“
“This tome draws the reader into the experiences that only combat personnel can usually hold witness to; broadening our understanding of the true sacrifices our military makes for us and our freedoms every day. ‘When Can I Stop Running’ should be on all of our ‘must read’ lists.”
-Jerry Kunnath, Writer
“What makes When Can I Stop Running? a different read from ‘Cherries’ are the interludes where Polack, his memories brought to the surface as warily he watches for any movement near the LP, recalls his many adventures with school friends, some terrifying, some funny while growing up in Detroit during the1960’s. It is in these stories, so familiar to those of us of the Boomer generation, that the author treats us to some of his finest writing. His childhood comes to life in his rich, poetic descriptions. It is a lost world which haunts all of our generation’s memories, just as we are haunted by our memories of the central and defining event of our generation, the Vietnam War. Highly recommended!”
-Christopher Gaynor, author of “A Soldier Boy Hears the Distant Guns” and countless newspaper articles including a feature story and photos inTime Magazine
“Warrior and Vietnam author John Podlaski pulls out the stops in a very personal story interweaving some of his childhood experiences with his unnerving telling of his night spent in a listening post. A vividly written yet tasteful account of a nightmare experience; hair-raising and touching at the same time. It’s a night he’ll never forget.”
-WilliamE. Peterson, International Best Selling and Award Winning Author: “Missions OfFire And Mercy~Until Death Do Us part”and “Chopper Warriors~Kicking The Hornet’s Nest”. Coming in July 2016, “ChopperHeroes.”
“John does a magical job in his second book of weaving the terrors of boyhood adventure with the terrors of war. His words had me laughing and crying while recalling and reliving some of my childhood adventures and the terror of pitch black nights alone on the floor of jungles in Vietnam. Thank you, John, for another great adventure!”
–Stephen Perry, Author of “Bright Light: Untold Stories of the Top Secret War in VVietnam.”
“As I read ‘When can I stop Running?’ and got deeper into the story, it brought all the images forward of those things I feared most – total darkness, rotting jungle, insects, and strange noises. I cringed at every turn, often asking myself if I had the bravado to do what they were doing. Today, soldiers use Night Vision Devices to see in the dark, quite a contrast from the Vietnam Era when soldiers only had their hearing, sense of smell, and a vivid imagination to guide them in the pitch black jungle. I also appreciate the author’s stories of his youth; the adventures are both frightening and funny, yet, I could relate to similar experiences while growing up. This book is the real deal! Great job, Mr. Podlaski!”
-R. Scott Ormond (Sgt-5 ReCon Scout and Tank Section 3d/33d Armor, Germany 1971-73)
To read sample chapters – click on this link to be redirected: https://cherrieswriter.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/when-can-i-stop-running-sample-chapters/
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