Pat Sajak 'Heard Very High-Level Secrets' At Pentagon

By Dave Basner

July 26, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

For the past 38 years, Pat Sajak has hosted Wheel of Fortune. He's made quite a career for himself since replacing Chuck Woolery on the game show in 1981. Pat has won three Emmys, been nominated for 19, and hosted over 7,000 episodes of the show. However, Sajak hasn't only been a game show host - before his work on Wheel, the Chicago-born Sajak had many other jobs.

Pat first worked at a local radio station while in college, giving an hourly news briefing in English during the overnight show, which happened to be in Spanish. From there, he enlisted in the Army and was made a finance clerk in Vietnam, just before the war there began. He was able to get himself transferred to Saigon, where he got a job back on the radio, becoming what he called the "Good Morning Vietnam" guy. He spent a year and a half doing that, then was assigned to a base in Texas, but after some time there, he got his superiors to change his orders and he was sent to the Pentagon.

Sajak said he worked several levels below ground at the Department of Defense headquarters, where he ran a slide projector for generals as they were briefed on the Vietnam War. Pat told the New York Times, "It was a very high-clearance job. And I suppose I heard very high-level secrets." He went on to say, "But it seems to me there was more talk about the then-postal strike than anything else. Also, when we flashed up maps of Vietnam, I saw them backwards. It always looked like we were retreating."

After that role, Pat would go on to work on news shows, reporting on a variety of issues. That's how he caught the eye of Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin, who thought Pat had "great charm" and brought him on board, where he's been for nearly four decades.

These days, Pat is making news of his own. On a personal note, he recently announced that his son, Patrick, had completed medical school and is now a doctor, and Sajak also revealed that he had to say goodbye to his dog of 12 years, Stella. On a show level, he's made some pretty big gaffes, opening the prize for the final round before the puzzle, as opposed to when it is supposed to be revealed at the end of the round, making a suggestive comment to a contestant, calling a contestant ungrateful, and having a rather icy exchange with a player over a bad pun. Then there was his most controversial conduct in February, when Sajak allegedly made fun of a player's lisp. It happened after that contestant spoke about himself, when Pat responded "I see," but seemed to say it as "I thee." The remark had people calling for his resignation.

You can see what headlines Pat makes by catching him on Wheel of Fortune weeknights. Check your local listings for when and where it airs in your area.

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