SALT LAKE CITY UT October 6, 2015
Joe Putnam, raised by a struggling single mother, entered the Air Force after high school and became an Air Traffic Controller at the age of 19. Transferring to the Army to seek opportunities to get a commission, he was accepted to the Infantry Officer Candidate School and became a Second Lieutenant of airborne infantry at the age of 20.
Putnam was the first military officer in the family as far back as anybody could remember and is in the second of three generations to serve in the armed forces. In 2007, his local newspaper did a front page story about his family’s 100 collective years of military service to the nation.
Recognizing there may be historical value to his combat service in Viet Nam, Putnam wrote down all he could remember about his experience. He says, “I wanted to pass it down through my family for whatever benefit it might be to future generations. After writing it, several family members and friends read it and thought I should try to publish.”
Finding a publisher isn’t easy for a first-time author, but Putnam came across WiDo Publishing™ as one interested in memoirs and submitted his manuscript, titled “American Adviser.”
WiDo™ submission editor Allie Maldonado noticed the email was simply labeled “Joe.” She states, “When I read the closing words of his query, I was touched by their honest humility: ‘Whether the story, American Adviser, is publishable or not is yours to decide, but it is my own account of what I saw and did.‘”
Maldonado began reading and couldn’t put it down until she’d finished late that night. “Joe has taken something as vast as one young soldier’s experience in the Viet Nam War and made it into a story that’s personal and compelling,” she says. “He brings everything back to the burning question of why did he survive when so many did not?”
“Two and a half million Americans served in Viet Nam and there must be two and a half million stories out there,” Putnam states. “With the help of WiDo Publishing, I feel blessed to be able to share mine.” His hope is for the memoir to reach people interested in knowing what it was like in Viet Nam for a common soldier. “With all the close calls I had and all the things I saw and experienced, one begins to understand why so many veterans suffer from PTSD.”
Maldonado states, “The Viet Nam War was a conflict misunderstood at the time and continues to be misunderstood. There are young people today who actually believe it was an invasion by the U.S. to get power and gain, as a ‘conquering entity’, one might say. We at WiDo are proud to publish the story of someone who was there and lived through it, just a kid from small town USA who got sent to do his duty.”
On a lighter topic, the author is currently re-working a book about a young couple who finds, rescues and rehabilitates lost, sick, injured and/or orphaned baby seals so they can be released back into their natural environment when they are healthy and ready to go. He says, “Certain parts of this true story can be politically sensitive, so I’m editing it to remove identities and hope this very sweet and heart warming story can be published, too.”
Joe Putnam retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel after serving 23 years in all components of the Army. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s degree from Oklahoma University. For his Viet Nam service, he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Commendation Medal for valor, two Air Medals for fifty combat flying missions, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, with one oak leaf cluster, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After retiring from the army, Putnam taught Junior ROTC in Texas high schools for eleven years, and spent five years working for the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics before retiring to private life. He lives with his wife, Tatyana, originally a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, in Oklahoma with Kenzie, their adorable and freakishly intelligent, frisbee-catching Border Collie.