CLEARFIELD — A local U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam War began writing a detective novel to stay out of jail after returning home from war.
Robert Fedak, 68, of Clearfield is originally from Jersey City, N.J. He dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967 when he was 17.
He was sent to Vietnam in 1968.
He was stationed with a supply company and ran night patrols in the rice paddies around Camp Monahan outside of Denang.
Fedak said his unit would go on patrol at 11 p.m. using night vision scopes. He ran point for the patrol as he was the one carrying the M14 machine gun.
Eventually he hurt his right knee resulting in torn cartilage, which required surgery in Japan. After stints in Japan and at Camp Pendleton in the U.S. doing desk jobs, he volunteered to return to Vietnam where he did night watch on Hill 55 and Anahoa for a few months before eventually being sent back home and discharged.
Fedak said he struggled with civilian life when he got home. His knee never completely healed and he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He moved to Denver, Colo., in the 1970s and was working as a security guard.
He said wasn’t making much money in his new profession, but he said the company he worked for made a lot of money – so he made a plan to burglarize it.
His first wife found out about the plan before he went throught with it, and convinced him to write a book instead – so he did.
“It’s a lot better than jail,” Fedak said, reflecting on what would have happened if he had gone through with his plan.
But life sidetracked him, and he became an over-the-road truck driver. He and his first wife divorced and he later remarried, working for 33 years as a truck driver before retiring. Eventually he moved to Clearfield to be closer to his grandchildren before taking a medical retirement.
After retiring he was bored and decided to go back to writing the book. He said he had always been a fan of old detective movies, shows and books – so he decided to write a book about a fictional San Francisco private investigator named Jay Jax, who is a World War I Marine veteran, set in 1936.
“I had to make him a Marine,” Fedak said.
And once he came up with the character, he came up with the plot of the story. He also named many of the characters in the book after friends and people he knows in Clearfield, some of whom many would recognize.
Although he never finished high school, he always enjoyed telling stories, so writing books was perfect for him.
The book can be purchased online at Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, etc. for $8.99.
Fedak said he is now working on a second Jay Jax book, which is a prequel to his current book. His website is jayjaxseries.com.