Stories of Honor: Army Sgt. John Zavalney served as lab tech during Vietnam War

CURT SYNNESS For the Independent Record

John Zavalney of Helena fits comfortably into the Vietnam veteran credo, “All gave some. Some gave all.”

“My story is not that of a big hero,” Zavalney, 77, states up front, “just survival as a draftee, and I was able to help save lives as an Army lab tech.”

His parents came from Russia, and Zavalney is “the proud son of immigrants” and extra happy that he was “born in the USA” and not Russia.

His father fought in World War I and came back with a slightly injured leg. His stepdad, John, was part of Patton’s tank brigade in WWII. And his mom was part of the VFW women’s auxiliary and sold poppies every Veteran’s Day.

After graduating from Glasgow High in 1963, and a failed attempt at college, Zavalney was drafted into the Army on April 4, 1968. He attended boot camp at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Fort Sam Houston’s medic school in Texas. And he remembers feeling worried about being skilled enough to save lives.

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