John Podlaski – When Can I Stop Running?


Title:  When Can I Stop Running?

Author:  John Podlaski

ISBN or ASIN: B01H9BESNC / 9787534775800

Page count: 175

Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Vietnam War


Price (Print and Ebook): $2.99 / $7.99

 04 04 12_0209Author Bio:

John Podlaski served in Vietnam during 1970 and 1971 as an infantryman with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the 501st Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.  He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.  He spent the years since Vietnam working in management positions within the automotive industry and recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.  John is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 and lives with his wife of 43 years, Janice, in Sterling Heights, Michigan.  Both retired in 2013 and spend their days pursuing interests they enj0y.  John published his second book in June, 2016.


Tell us about your book:

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.


Share any thoughts you’d like the readers to know about you and/or your book:

Have you ever been afraid?  I’m talking about gut-wrenching fear – the kind you might experience when your very life is in danger?  This story takes place during a single terrifying night in the Vietnam War, the author weaves the terrors of boyhood adventures with the terrors of war.


Where can we go to buy your book? fpr Kindle and paperback:

Epub and other digital formats:


Any other links or info you’d like to share?

My website is full of Vietnam War stories, pictures, videos, et al:


Excerpt from book:

During the previous few days, recon patrols operating around the firebase had located different trails, all showing recent heavy activity, and some were within a couple of clicks of the firebase. The battalion leadership, concerned about their proximity, concentrated their efforts on these trails and kept squad-sized units patrolling within four clicks of the wire. Colonel Smith and his staff identified primary and secondary ambush locations and places where the LP’s could hole up each night. During the briefing two hours earlier, squad leaders were given small topographical maps of the area; routes were identified and final destinations circled with a red grease pencil. Team leaders would conduct final briefings with their teams just before departure, which is what Sgt. Rock was doing at the moment. He went over the assigned primary and alternate bush locations, radio call signs, and had the men conduct a weapons check. Just before leaving, Rock conducted another physical inspection of each squad member to ensure shirt sleeves were down completely, all exposed skin was covered with camouflage paint, all specified supplies were available, and finally, that nothing rattled. Afterward, the men hurriedly took last drags of their cigarettes before stomping the butts into the earth. Once outside of the firebase, there was no smoking, talking or eating until their return the following morning.

Rock led his squad through the gate, leaving the relative safety of the firebase. The engineers had plowed back the jungle 200 meters beyond the wire, providing those guards on the perimeter an unobstructed view to open fields of fire to repel enemy ground attacks. However, the ground was uneven and covered with large, deep tracks from the heavy equipment. Exposed tree roots, pieces of tree bark, branches and bowling ball-sized chunks of clay added to the obstacle course, making the march in the twilight hazardous for the single file of eleven soldiers. The point man followed a compass azimuth of 90 degrees (due east) leading into the jungle. Once they entered, most of the light disappeared, forcing the line of soldiers to tighten up their distance between one another and not lose sight of the man in front of him. After advancing along the trail for about ten minutes, Sgt. Rock stopped the squad when they came upon an intersecting path, then touched Polack and LG on the shoulder, and pointed silently to a clump of bushes about twenty feet to their left. The two men stepped out of line; the remaining soldiers began moving again, each man offering either a thumbs-up or a peace sign to the two soldiers as they passed. Within seconds, they had vanished into the darkness.