About the Author:
John Hedley grew up as an Army kid. His dad served in the Army until John was 10 years old. During those years, John lived in Japan for three years, France for three years and, finally, in the United States in California and at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon retirement, John’s dad relocated his family to his hometown of Rochester, NY where John lived until he graduated from high school. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Fort Dix for basic training. He had dreamed of attending West Point and learned that the Army offered a preparatory school for regular Army and reserve soldiers who wanted to go to West Point. John was accepted into the USMAPS program at Fort Belvoir, VA for a year of intense academic study. After that, he was off to West Point.
Upon graduation in 1968, John volunteered to serve in Vietnam as his first assignment. The experiences John shares in his book are a testament to the bravery of the men who served and their friendships forged in knowing that each one protected the other at all times.
Nowadays, John can be found at Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville, NC. The shop is a non-profit shop designed with veterans in mind but open to everyone. Visiting to enjoy a cup of coffee, taking in the military items on display and listening to veterans swap stories is a unique experience, not to be missed.
Inspiration for Saddle Up (The Story of a Red Scarf):
John shared that he had two primary reasons for writing Saddle Up. “I wanted to document the legacy of this unique, special group of men it was my honor to lead in 1969 – the reconnaissance platoon known as Fox Force (1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division),” he said. “Members of Fox Force earned their red scarves as an award of valor from a South Vietnamese unit, and wore them all the time, even on missions. We learned through a POW that the North Vietnamese had a $10,000 bounty on us for anyone who could kill a Fox Force member and claim his red scarf. To my knowledge, no one ever succeeded.”
John’s second goal for the book was to dispel the perceptions that Vietnam veterans experienced upon coming home. He has first-hand experiences of ridicule from protestors when he reached American soil; it was quite a shock. The majority of those who served in Vietnam did so with valor and honor, putting their lives on the line every day. They deserved a better homecoming.
About: Saddle Up (The Story of a Red Scarf):
John shares his experiences in Vietnam from first stepping off the plane in the searing heat to the jungles so dense it was hard to see through the foliage. He takes his readers along on reconnaissance missions where each step is taken quietly and carefully, knowing that the enemy may be anywhere, watching and waiting. Written in the first person, with commentary from other platoon members, this book paints an unvarnished picture of the life of an Army soldier.
John captures the strength of friendships that sustained them after their service and how they kept connected over the years. It’s an account of bonds that are forged and unbreakable, of men who continue to have each other’s backs even now. John brings readers full circle, from Vietnam to present day, sharing friends and extended families that have stories worth sharing and remembering.
Where to find Saddle Up (The Story of a Red Scarf):
Saddle Up (The Story of a Red Scarf) was published by A15 Publishing Company (a veteran-owned business) in late 2017. The book is available on Amazon.com and on John’s website (Saddleup-redscarf.com), which has a link back to Amazon.com for ordering.
Copies of Saddle Up (The Story of a Red Scarf), signed by the author, are also available at Richard’s Coffee Shop. The shop, located on Main Street in downtown Mooresville, is a non-profit offering coffee and a “Welcome Home Veterans” ever-growing display of memorabilia. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 7:30am to 3pm. If you’re a veteran, Thursday is your day – coffee is free to veterans that day. On an average Thursday, about 100 to 120 veterans stop by to enjoy a cup and visit with each other. Saturday is also a high attendance day with live music in the morning. However, you don’t have to be a veteran to enjoy the warm hospitality of Richard’s Coffee Shop. Stop by for a copy of Saddle Up, to see the displays and enjoy a taste of history, served with a hot cup of coffee. You shouldn’t miss a deal like that!