A man from Geneseo will publish his book about his year in the US Army during the Vietnam War.
John Raschke’s memoir of his experiences will be available this summer as “A Tour in Chuong Thien Province,” published by McFarland Press. It will be available through Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble. It’s slated for August 22 and can be pre-ordered.
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Raschke remembers his upbringing on a rural farm in Geneseo in Edwards Township, the second of ten children. He graduated from Geneseo High School in the spring of 1965, just as American involvement in Vietnam was intensifying.
Raschke worked for a year at International in Rock Island and chose to enlist in the military. He was told he would study to be an X-ray technician, instead he was given the job of being a doctor.
Since Raschke qualified for officer candidate school, he took advantage of the available training and came out as a second lieutenant. After completing officer training, Raschke volunteered as an adviser in Vietnam, followed the necessary instructions, and learned the language.
Raschke arrived in Vietnam in July 1969, at the height of the conflict. His most immediate impressions were arriving in the middle of the monsoon season, short rain showers followed by sunshine and sweltering heat. “Just getting off the plane and carrying my gym bag to the terminal found me drenched in sweat. The (mostly unpleasant) smells were something most Vietnam vets would comment on as being a first impression.”
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The book is full of anecdotes about the future engineer who became an infantry officer. He details the interactions between himself and the strong bonds he has forged with his Vietnamese counterparts. The book also details the weapons, equipment and systems used during the conflict.
“I loved the Vietnamese people. I laughed with them, I cried with them, I lived with them, I had my life saved by them and I admired their location. Because I spoke especially the language and understood the cultural taboos, I was fully accepted by Vietnamese soldiers and civilians – I had a lot of sympathy for them and for the situation in which they were caught.”
When asked, this Illinois farm boy found no comparison to the rolling fields of Henry County. Assigned to an important rice-producing area of the Mekong Delta, “Our province was as flat as a table and the highest point was only 2 feet above sea level. The production of Rice was done entirely by hand labor, with the occasional water buffalo. The production was radically different from the mechanized methods I experienced as a child.”
Raschke is a retired colonel and lives in Springfield, Illinois.