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John S. Raschke was born in Geneseo and was raised on a small farm 6 miles west of the city. A 1965 graduate of J. .D. Darnall High School, unable to afford to go to college, he began working for International Harvester’s Farmall Plant in Rock Island. In 1966 he enlisted in the US Army and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1968. Following Advisor’s School and Vietnamese Language School, he arrived in Vietnam in the Summer of 1969 and spent 10 ½ months advising Vietnamese military units. Following his Army service, John returned to the Geneseo area and resumed working at the Farmall Plant, joined the Illinois Army National Guard, and concurrently earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Illinois University. With the divestiture of International Harvester in the mid-1980’s, then Major Raschke reentered the Army and served in a number of positions of increasing responsibility, retiring in 1999 as a Colonel. Following his retirement from the Army he briefly worked for the Illinois Commerce Commission, and later for the United States Attorney’s Office in Springfield. John and his wife Jane live in the Springfield area.
In the summer of 1969, as the Vietnam War was being turned over to the South Vietnamese, Lieutenant John Raschke arrived in Chuong Thien Province deep in the Mekong Delta, eager to have a positive impact. Recounting his assignment to a provincial advisory team of military and civilian personnel, this memoir depicts the ordinary and the extraordinary of life both inside and outside the wire—mortar attacks, firefights and snipers, hot showers, good meals and comradery, the life and death struggles of the Vietnamese people and the bonds he formed with them.
Claire Crawford, Director