POW shares war ordeals in new memoir

William Reeder Jr., a former Army pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, will be the featured author at the first announced event of 2017 at Eagle Harbor Book Company. Reeder visits the Winslow shop at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 to discuss his memoir, “Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam.”

The book is Reeder’s captivating recount of being the last U.S. soldier taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. A narrative of courage, hope and survival, “Through the Valley” is more than just a war story. It also portrays the thrill and horror of combat, the fear and anxiety of captivity and the stories of friendships forged and friends lost.

In 1971, Reeder was a senior captain on his second tour in Vietnam. He had flown armed, fixed-wing OV-1 Mohawks on secret missions deep into enemy territory in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam on his first tour. He returned as a helicopter pilot eager to experience a whole new perspective as a Cobra gunship pilot. Believing that Nixon’s “Vietnamization” would soon end the war, Reeder was anxious to see combat action. To him, it appeared that the Americans had prevailed, beaten the Viet Cong and were passing everything over to the South Vietnamese Army so that Americans could leave.

Less than a year later, while providing support to forces at the besieged base of Ben Het, Reeder’s chopper went down in a flaming corkscrew.

Though Reeder survived the crash, he was captured after evading the enemy for three days. He was held for weeks in jungle cages before enduring a grueling forced march on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, costing the lives of seven of his group of 27 other POWs. Imprisoned in the notorious prisons of Hanoi, Reeder’s tenacity in the face of unimaginable hardship is not only a captivating story, but serves as an inspiration to all.

In “Through the Valley” Reeder shares the torment and pain of his ordeal, but does so in the light of the hope that he never lost. His memoir reinforces the themes of courage and sacrifice, undying faith, strength of family, love of country, loyalty among comrades, and a realization of how precious is the freedom all too often taken for granted.

Reeder is a retired Army colonel and highly decorated combat veteran. He received the Silver Star for gallantry, two Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism, an Air Medal for valor, and three Purple Hearts for wounds received during the events related in his book. Since military retirement, he has continued to be involved in leadership training and education for the Army and NATO Special Operations Forces.

In 2014, he was inducted into the U.S. Army Aviation Hall of Fame.

Visit www.eagleharborbooks.com to learn more about this and other upcoming author events.