The Tragic History of Mike Warnke
By Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein
Copyright 1992 by Jon Trott & Mike Hertenstein
Mike in Vietnam
In November of 1967, the Warnkes moved back to Camp Pendleton and Oceanside. In May of 1969, Warnke was transferred from Pendleton to the Third Marine Division, Vietnam. Warnke says he spent his time in Vietnam, like so many who served there, anesthetized from the experience of war by drugs.
The following is a list of the other things Mike Warnke says happened to him while in Vietnam:
My faith was weakening fast! A buddy of mine was killed--a mortar shell landed directly on him, disintegrating him except for his shoes. I was existing from one bottle to the next. The message [a spy] was carrying was a detailed description of myself and the skipper, identifying us as prime targets for the Viet Cong....
Anyway, one day we were into this fire fight....Everybody is shooting at each other....
....All of a sudden: zoooom, zonk, and my arm is pinned to the ground with an arrow! I look over at this other Marine Corps sergeant, who goes, "Only you, man, only you!"
One time I went through a village and was handing out candy bars to little kids. Just standing in the back of my Jeep....
When I get done, I'm putting the box back and this twelve-year-old kid goes in his house, comes back out with a gun, and shoots me.
Add to the list this story from Keith Schrader, Jr.: "Mike told me that he killed a man in a bar fight in the Philippines."
Despite the impression such a long list may give, records show Warnke was in Vietnam for only six months.
In The Satan Seller Mike says he was wounded twice. In his second book, Hitchhiking on Hope Street, he says he was wounded five times. Military records obtained by Cornerstone show that Mike Warnke, hospital corpsman, second class, service number B98 05 49, received one Purple Heart, and, along with the rest of his unit, several additional medals. The Third Marine Division he was connected to was withdrawn from Vietnam in October of 1969 and sent to Okinawa.
Warnke was sent back to the U.S. in the spring of 1970 and for the first time was able to see his infant son, Brendon Michael, born December 2, 1969, while Mike was overseas. In return for reenlisting for six more years, Mike was enrolled in cardiopulmonary school. The Warnke family settled in San Diego.
George Wakeling, who worked with young drug addicts, says he was contacted by Mike around this time. George was the founder of the Drug Prevention Center, or "the Hotline," a ministry to addicts at the Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim. Mike started spending time at the Hotline, and getting instruction from Hotline speaker Dick Handley. It was through the Hotline that Mike made his first contacts with Jesus-Movement-era Christianity.Mike Meets the Jesus Movement