Vietnam vet shares story
Author to visit Waupaca library
By Angie Landsverk
“The story revolves around growing up in Chicago and getting drafted. It’s just about a kid who didn’t make into college, got drafted and got sent to Vietnam,” Duffy said. “It’s from my heart. It took me 35 years (to complete).”
This special Lunch & Learn program will take place the day before Veterans Day.
To register for the program, which includes lunch, visit www.waupacalibrary.org/adults or call the library at 715-258-4414.
Duffy will sell signed copies of his book. The book’s price is $15.
Born and raised in Chicago, Duffy loved art and wanted to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
After his application was rejected, he began working to save money for college, while also taking night classes at a downtown community college.
Then Duffy received his draft notice and went into the U.S. Army.
He went in as a private 1st class.
After being asked to be an officer, he went to school to become a 2nd lieutenant.
That raised Duffy’s monthly pay, but also put him on a direct path to Vietnam.
“All the other students in my class went to Germany,” he said.
Gene Diggins, a childhood friend from Duffy’s same Chicago neighborhood, also went into the Army and was sent to Germany. He lives in Amherst.
Duffy landed in Saigon on Jan. 31, 1968, the first day of a massive battle, the Tet Offensive.
“Saigon was under attack. I saw fighting. It was wild,” he said.
Duffy spent a year in Vietnam and met up with his younger brother, Danny, for a day.
The cover of Duffy’s book is a picture of the two of them.
While serving in Vietnam, Duffy received an acceptance letter from Colorado College.
He became familiar with the small college while training at Fort Carson, in Colorado, before going to Vietnam.
That acceptance letter gave him a vision for what to do when he returned home.
Duffy studied art and history there.
After college, he moved to Denver and married his wife Margaret.
They raised three daughters.
Margaret passed away several years ago.
Both Margaret and their daughters helped him write his book.
“I started writing it longhand on paper in the late 1970s,” he said. “I wanted to leave something for my children to read.”
Duffy self-published the book in 2016 and explained how his upcoming visit to Waupaca’s library came to be.
The 71-year-old lives in downtown Chicago and owns a small sales company, which takes him through Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I was on my way from Appleton to Stevens Point and stopped in Waupaca, at the library,” he said.
Duffy asked a staff member if the library had a copy of his book, and the library decided to add it to his collection and book him for a Lunch and Learn program.
He has stopped at other libraries in between seeing his customers and now has his book in about 100 libraries.
On Nov. 10, Duffy will talk for about 45 minutes and then have time for questions from those in attendance.
“I will be bringing some artifacts from Vietnam. One is a uniform I wore over there. I also have a 50-year-old map to show,” he said. “I’m also going to discuss a little bit about how we, the United States, got involved in Vietnam.”