‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Said His Radio Show While Serving in Vietnam Was ‘Very Un-Military’

by Emily Morgan

Long before Pat Sajak was a household name on “Wheel of Fortune,” he led a life you’d never expect. Before he was the show’s leading man, he worked as a weatherman, DJ and even served in the military.

During an interview with NPR in 2013, Sajak opened up— not about his game show duties— but about his time serving in the Vietnam War. Decades before “Wheel of Fortune” was a concept, a young Pat Sajak was a young man during the Vietnam War. Like many other American men, Sajak decided to sign up to serve in 1968.

“I was in college and not doing great, and not particularly enjoying it; and kind of wanting to get on with my life and career and all that, he said. “So instead, I joined the Army.”

While you might think game shows and fighting in war have nothing in common, you’ll be in for a surprise. As it turns out, Sajak actually got his start in entertainment while overseas when he took a job in broadcasting for the military.

Pat Sajak Gains Priceless Experience in the Army

“I was told by recruiters that if I were to join, that might help my chances of say, getting into broadcasting and not going to Vietnam – which I wasn’t especially anxious to do. But it didn’t quite work out that way, and that’s where I was sent,” Sajak continued.

Once in Vietnam, he worked as a disc jockey on Armed Forces Radio. Little did he know, his role in the Army would help him gain valuable experience in entertainment.

“We tried to make it sound like a stateside radio station. So we – it was very un-military. We played, you know, whatever the rock ‘n’ roll music was, at the time. And it was great training for me. And I used to say, this would be a wonderful job except for all the barbed wire and tanks outside,” he said.

After returning home, Pat Sajak said that he had regrets for having such a “cushy” job while in the military.

“I used to feel a bit guilty about my relatively soft duty. After all, I was billeted in a hotel and there were plenty of nice restaurants around,” Sajak said once. “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. I always thought it strange that they should be thanking me, given what so many of them were going through on a daily basis.”