John Koelsch is an award-winning writer and decorated Vietnam war veteran. For his service as a U.S. Army Infantry Combat Platoon Leader he received 2 Purple Hearts and a Combat Infantryman's Badge.
As a U.S. Army Infantry Combat Platoon Leader in Vietnam in 1968, John received a Bronze Star w. "V" Device for Valor, two Purple Hearts, and a Combat Infantryman's Badge. His platoon accomplished every mission they were assigned and no man under his direct command died, although 13 were wounded. John holds both a B.A. in Political Science and an M.P.A. in Public Administration. His work in the public sector over three decades culminated in the writing of UBUNTU: I Am Because We Are a treatise on fixing the fractured state of American governance.
John left home at thirteen after determining he would live his life as a leader helping groups to live a better life and prosper. His journey began at Divine Word Seminary in Perrysburg, Ohio where he studied with the goal of becoming a Roman Catholic Missionary Priest. During this period he became closely acquainted with the power of belief in supporting the effectiveness of team. He personally dealt with how the power of commanding belief could make leaders dismissive of factual truth and cause them to lose sight of the team's goals and disrupt team structure -- another major factor in team effectiveness.
After four and a half years, John decided to follow a different path to becoming a leader. At that point he faced the draft. Being sensible, he determined that he didn’t want to get shot. He enlisted in the U.S. Army with a guaranteed in writing non-combat assignment. His lessons in leadership began in earnest. A series of minor, seemingly dis-connected decisions resulted in his enrollment in Infantry Officer Candidate School. While there he learned “A leader is someone who assesses the situation, determines what needs to be done, and sees that it gets done.” He observed the impact of structure on effectiveness of the team both in how it worked and how easy it was to abuse and misuse causing detrimental results to team goals. Too, he began to comprehend how easily structure could be manipulated to achieve desired results.
Finally, he received the ultimate experience in leadership – leading men in combat in Vietnam. In fact, he became the Tip of the Spear; leading his platoon against the direct and strongest force of the enemy in the defense of Saigon during Mini-Tet – the May 1968 second offensive. This was the worst month of the entire war for American casualties. The attacking enemy numbered over 38,000 well prepared, armed and determined troops, who believed in their cause. While the country-wide total number of attacking troops was less than in the Tet Offensive, a larger number actually attacked Saigon.
Upon returning to the United States, John maintained his course. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Kentucky, where he focused his studies on political structure. He was awarded a competitive fellowship with the Southern Regional Training Program in Public Administration, which included study in the States of Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He earned a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University of Tennessee.
Work in the public sector included: State level with the Tennessee Higher Education System, operating the state-wide Student Information System, and in five different municipalities, where he directed all aspects of operations in City Manager or similar positions. A major accomplishment during this time was creation and implementation of the Strategic Budget Process, that remains the only known budgetary system built around proven processes of effective decision-making, with successful outcomes.
Out of these experiences, John created UBUNTU: I Am Because We Are, a thesis on fixing the fractured state of American governance.