‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Expressed Complicated Feelings of ‘Guilt’ for ‘Soft’ Job in Army

by Evan Reier

Every person that serves deserves recognition for the courage and willingness to step up. That includes Pat Sajak, the host of Wheel of Fortune.

For those unaware, Sajak served in the U.S. Army starting in 1968. However, he wasn’t ever destined to be a fighter, instead leaving training as a specialist fifth class. Initially, Sajak was to be a typist.

That then translated to being a disc jockey, through a myriad of developments and orders. Soon after, Sajak was in Saigon, spinning records and delivering messages. And while every role served is one worthy of respect, Sajak said he didn’t always feel that way.

In an essay penned for the USO, he opened up on the progression of his feelings.

“I used to feel a bit guilty about my relatively ‘soft’ duty,” Sajak said. “After all, I was billeted in a hotel, and there were plenty of nice restaurants around. But I always felt a little better when I met guys who came into town from the field and thanked us for bringing them a little bit of home.”

The Wheel of Fortune star has a point. At the end of the day, there is quite a difference between being on the frontlines and working a radio station.

But, as he mentioned, there is value in a great many things, and that includes entertainment.

Wheel of Fortune Star Pat Sajak on Entertainment

Sajak’s essay touched on a variety of topics pertaining to the military and his service. But before he got to hilarious stories or more background, he had additional words on the relationship between his fellow U.S. Army members and himself.

“I always thought it was strange that they should be thanking me,” Sajak said. “Given what so many of them were going through on a daily basis. But they reminded me of the importance of providing entertainment to those who serve — something the USO knows very well. To this day, my fellow vets from that era repeat those thank-yous, and it’s really very humbling.”

It’s a touching message from the Wheel of Fortune star. In that type of context or scenario, it’s hard to feel like those giving up so much around you could be thankful. But Sajak was able to come to that conclusion.

In turn, he has a relationship and respect that few can understand or quantify. As he continued in the essay, it’s clear he’ll never forget it.

“My respect for those who serve has stayed with me throughout my life,” Sajak wrote. “And my time in the military—particularly my time in Vietnam — are among those things in my life of which I’m most proud.”