When he was 15 years old, John “Hammer” Hanzlik’s grandmother bought him a Bridgestone 175 motorcycle from JCPenney. In the 52 years since, Hanzlik has ridden in all sorts of weather and situations, both solo and in large groups.
That led The American Legion Rider from Post 1 in Omaha, Neb., to begin writing safety tips for the Legion’s website for a few years. And now, Hanzlik has taken those pieces of advice and turned them into a book.
“Highway 34: Motorcycle Riding Tips for Riders and Grasshoppers,” now available via Amazon, covers group riding, sharing the road, avoiding road rage and evasive moves, among other topics.
“I thought it would be an easy way to get people to read it, instead of looking (safety tips) up,” Hanzlik said. “It’s just perfect for if you’re sitting around on a rainy day. You can pick it up and turn to any page and it’ll be interesting. It’s kind of like taking a safety course without ever leaving the house.”
It’s not Hanzlik’s first foray into writing. He’s written two other books, including “the Bones of Pleiku: Send 'em home or send me back,” which deals with Hanzlik’s return to Vietnam years after serving both in the U.S. Army’s 2/1 Armor Calvary, the 1/50th Mechanized Infantry, and the 765 Transport Company, and then later as a contractor.
During trips to Vietnam in the 1990s, Hammer and his wife became involved returning U.S. missing in action (MIA) from the Vietnam War.
Hanzlik admits having dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and that writing is a “release” for him. He took some writing classes at a technical school “to learn where the commas go,” and now he hopes his writing can make a difference – especially when it comes to the MIA issues.
“Hopefully people will pick up (“the Bones of Pleiku”), and it will awaken them to the (MIA issue). I don’t want to let that all fade away into the past. This is kind of my way of bringing along the cause of the MIAs. I’ve been told twice by (book) reviewers what a great way to keep the ‘you’re not forgotten’ thing alive. I’ve been encouraged by that.”