Army veteran John Radvansky is quite decorated.
He has three Bronze Stars, one of which has a “V” device, a Purple Heart, and three Army Accommodation medals, two of which also have a “V” device, for his service during the Vietnam War.
It’s those honors and bravery that will soon earn him a place in the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.
“I did total time in the service, I did two years, seven months and six days,” Radvansky said. “Of that time I did one year, seven months and 15 days in Vietnam.”
Radvansky enlisted in the Army in August of 1968, just shortly after graduating high school. One year later after basic training, advanced infantry training and the NCO academy, he found himself in Vietnam. He was assigned to the 25th infantry division, 3rd squadron, 4th cavalry.
“You get in a fire fight, you’re scared, you do what you’re supposed to do and you hope you don’t get killed,” Radvansky explained.
Not long after arriving in Vietnam, he was fighting for his life.
“They hit us as soon as it was dark,” he Radvansky remembers. “I don’t know how many mortars they dropped on our position. I don’t know how much machine guns, but we had off and on almost all night long. Here I looked down, we carried 100 cans of 50 caliber amo, 100 cans of M-60 amo and almost everything was gone and here it’s almost daylight. Seemed like it only took 10 minutes.”
Radvansky said that was the beginning of many nights like this.
He worked with tanks and armored personnel carriers, with most of his missions being search and destroy, to sweep roads and other areas for mines.
“Usually you could spot, if the ground was dug up or something, you could pretty much spot something that didn’t seem normal,” Radvansky explained. “Then again, if there weren’t no civilians out on the roads you made wonder. Usually if you saw civilians out there was nothing going on.”
There were points in Radvansky’s service that were dangerous, and difficult.
“I can’t say that it wasn’t a terrible feeling. It’s something that you are trained and after stuff happens you sort of get used to it,” he recalled. “The hardest part was when one of your friends got hurt or killed.”
For some of those moments he received the Bronze Star. The first, with a “V” device, was for his part in finding and destroying a tunnel complex used for enemy communication.
“Here there were six radios down there on the shelf,” Radvansky explained. “There were two or three dead enemy and a whole bunch of weapons. I went ahead, I grabbed I believe four radios. Then I grabbed three fully automatic A-K 47s and I got a flashlight and a 45 too. There was a big tree there. We found an antennae in the tree and they said from that point there actually talk to Hanoi, which was four, 500 miles away.”
Radvansky was awarded the second Bronze Star after surviving an ambush on nighttime patrol.
“There were 17 of us in that group and 15 of the 17 guys were either killed or wounded,” he said. “I was the one that wasn’t, so bless my lucky stars I guess.”
Radvansky’s third Bronze Star was for commemorative service. He also received a Purple Heart after being wounded by a piece of shrapnel in his ear that damaged his hearing.
Finally, his career ended in March of 1971, just three weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
“I’m very proud of it,” he said.
His induction into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor will be in May.
Radvansky continues to serve his fellow veterans as President of the Vietnam Veterans Support Group in Steubenville.
The group of about 12 to 20 gentlemen meet every Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the group’s third floor office in the Ohio Valley Towers at 500 Market Street in Steubenville. Membrship is open to all military combat veterans in search of support, someone to talk to or just camaraderie.