On Speaking with Veterans and Youngsters (published in MWSA Dispatches, summer 2021)


Having retired from the workforce some years ago, I’ve been able to take up my hobby of writing full time. I’ve written three published books of historical fiction, relating to my experiences serving in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force. I also write for the Military Writer’s Society of America, (MWSA), and various newspaper and magazine publications. I have a very active blog on my website, which brings in about forty thousand hits a month. In another month or two, my latest book “On War, Fishing and Philosophy” will be released.


                                     Our Veterans


This past week my wife Ann and I attended the Wounded Warriors of Wisconsin Northwoods Venture in Northern Wisconsin. I was honored to be the Emcee at the event banquet. There was a fantastic group of veterans in attendance along with their families and guests. There were also many others in attendance, including event sponsors, donors, fishing guides who donated their services to the group, and our wonderful hosts, the Hess family from The Woodlands Resort in Plum Lake Wisconsin.


I did my best to keep it interesting for all the wounded warriors and guests, and they responded kindly to my presentation. I donated over forty copies of my three books from The Kansas NCO trilogy, during the course of our stay.


Speaking with my fellow veterans has been the highlight of my book events and speaking engagements. The veterans, with their own experiences, understand the many facets of military activity. They also share many of their own experiences during these events, which I am honored to hear.


I am especially humbled around our wounded warriors. They are not bitter; they raise families and hold them dearly. And they push themselves through their trials to become the members of our society we all hope to be. Simply put, they are the best of the best.


                               The Youngsters


I have also had the pleasure of speaking with our young people on many occasions. They are always a joy to be with, curious, attentive and courteous.


The schools and various children’s organizations where I have spoken have always made me feel welcome.


Some time ago I spoke at the Boys and Girls Club in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A fine organization, ran and supported by many dedicated people. There, I had another very enjoyable day, chatting with the youngsters who were present. I spoke to them about my time in Vietnam, and the youth I encountered while there. They were very interested in the young people of Vietnam. I also spoke about the wide variety of wildlife we encountered in that wild, tropical country.


The story of our hooch dog “Noah” particularly grabbed the attention of the kids. They were fascinated by the part where Noah killed a large cobra snake that had entered our barracks, thus, becoming a hero.


I went on to tell the youngsters about an encounter four of us had with a tiger, right on the Phu Cat Airbase one evening around dusk. The tiger was laying in wait, as we walked along a dirt road. A passing jeep, saw the animal and came back to warn us. (Approximately twelve American servicemen were killed by tigers during the Vietnam War) I told the kids how the tiger had crouched in the tall grass and snarled at us when we approached. I described the beauty of the large cat, and how I still get the shivers when I remember it’s snarl.


One of the youngsters, I believe his name was Javon, was particularly enthralled with the story. He raised his hand and said, in all sincerity, “Mr. Campolo, Noah would have saved you from that tiger!”


Love my fellow veterans, and love those kids.



About the Author

Joe Campolo Jr.

Joe Campolo, Jr. is an award winning author, poet and public speaker. A Vietnam War Veteran, Joe writes and speaks about the war, and is a Veteran's advocate. Some of Joe's stories are gripping, some humorous. Joe also writes about other experiences, many of which are also humorous. Joe enjoys fishing, traveling, writing and spending time with his family. Joe loves to hear from his readers, please send him a note on this page or the contact page! (and order one of Joe's popular books from the link on his author page)


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