Local author Bruce D. Johnson displays a copy of his new book, “10¢ and a Silver Star…” The object with many dials is the replica of a control panel from a B-17 Flying Fortress, which is an example of the products Johnson sells through his company. (Submitted photo)

By Dennis West

Staff Writer

Author Bruce D. Johnson grew up in Chicago. Like many a young man who graduated from school in the late 1960s, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam. It is on this experience that he based his novel, “10¢…and a Silver Star.”

As the word “novel” suggests, it is a work of fiction, but as Johnson says, “It’s based on experiences, but highly embellished.”

Unlike the author, the novel’s protagonist, who is somewhat confusingly also named Bruce D. Johnson, wins a Silver Star, the consequences of which run throughout his life, and the book.

As an aside, the subtitle, “A sardonic saga of PTSD,” may need some explanation. The word sardonic means “grimly mocking or cynical,” which is the lens through which Johnson portrays the war and its aftermath. Although most people know what PTSD (Post Trauma Stress Disorder) means, it is the inability to engage with life, have healthy associations with people, or often manage anger.

The Silver Star is the third-highest personal decoration for valor in combat, outranked only by the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.

The book begins in Vietnam when Capt. Riley, an officer like those found in “Catch 22,” asks to see Johnson.

“It seems that Military Assistance Command Vietnam has approved your recommendation for a Silver Star,” Riley tells Johnson.

Readers can meet Bruce Johnson at Authorfest in Lake Geneva’s Library Park on Saturday, July 13, from 10 a.m. 4 p.m.

Read the rest of this story in the Lake Geneva Times and Genoa City Report.


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