John Brodak was born in 1941 in Saint Louis, Missouri. He was commissioned a 2d Lt through the Air Force ROTC program at Saint Louis University on June 3, 1961, and went on active duty beginning October 2, 1961. Lt Brodak completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Webb AFB, Texas, in December 1962, and then completed F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training before serving with the 53rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg AB, West Germany, from November 1963 to April 1966. Capt Brodak next served as an F-105 pilot with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from April 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 14, 1966. After spending 2,395 days in captivity, Maj Brodak was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Scott AFB, Illinois, and then received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to the University of Philadelphia to complete his Masters degree, followed by the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Col Brodak served as Operations Officer and then Commander of the 15th Military Airlift Squadron at Norton AFB, California, from June 1977 to April 1979, and then attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. His final assignment was with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon, where he retired from the Air Force on July 1, 1983.
His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:
This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions and propaganda materials. This American resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.