Col. Reeder named parade grand marshal

Col. William S. Reeder Jr., Ph.D., U.S. Army (ret.) is grand marshal of the 2016 Silverdale Whaling Days Parade.

SILVERDALE — Col. William S. Reeder Jr., Ph.D., U.S. Army (ret.) is grand marshal of the 2016 Silverdale Whaling Days Parade.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. July 30 on Silverdale Way, and is coordinated by the Silverdale Kiwanis Club and the Silverdale Dandy Lions Club, and sponsored by First Federal Bank.

Reeder served 30 years in the U.S. Army. He was a helicopter pilot and was shot down and captured by the communist North Vietnamese. He spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war and wrote about that experience in a recently released book, “Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam” (256 pages, Naval Institute Press, 2016).

His military decorations include the Silver Star, Valorous Unit Award, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, the POW Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star and numerous Air Medals.

Reeder was named 1977 Aviator of the Year by the Army Aviation Association of America and was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014.

Reeder is “a legendary aviator who has made contributions to survival, evasion, resistance, escape (SERE) training and the attack helicopter community,” his Army Aviation Hall of Fame bio states.

“His 30-year career included two combat tours in Vietnam, flying armed OV-1 Mohawk reconnaissance airplanes and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.

“On May 9, 1972, he was leading a team of AH-1 Cobras supporting two Vietnamese ranger battalions and their American advisors. He was shot down, his co-pilot/gunner killed. Severely wounded, he evaded the enemy but was eventually captured spending nearly a year as a prisoner of war (POW).

“Upon repatriation, he returned to military flight duties. He was instrumental in early night-vision-goggle training programs, tactical innovations later used in combat in Iraq and the transition of the U.S. Army Apache Training Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, into what would become the 21st Cavalry Brigade. Wanting to help future POWs return home with honor, he wrote his ‘Eight Steps for Survival in a POW Camp,’ still studied in SERE training courses today.”

During his career, Reeder logged more than 3,000 flight hours — one third of those in combat.