Viet­nam War POW will lead pa­rade

Re­tired colonel has helped with the event since its 1998 in­cep­tion

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - By SARAH SARDER Staff Writer sarah.sarder@dal­las­ Twit­ter: @sarderrr

The Dal­las Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade on Mon­day will honor Viet­nam War POW Ken Cordier, who spent over six years im­pris­oned at the in­fa­mous “Hanoi Hil­ton.”

The grand mar­shal of Dal­las’ Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade will never for­get his time as a pris­oner of war in Viet­nam or how long he was im­pris­oned at the in­fa­mous “Hanoi Hil­ton.”

“Six years, three months and two days,” re­tired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier said.

Cordier spent 24 years in the mil­i­tary be­fore re­tir­ing. Of all his mem­o­ries, from drop­ping bombs to fly­ing solo, he said his re­lease from the POW camp was the most ex­cit­ing.

On Mon­day, the Dal­las Vet­er­ans Day Pa­rade will honor Cordier as its grand mar­shal, rec­og­niz­ing him for his years of mil­i­tary ser­vice and decades of in­volve­ment in the pa­rade.

“I’m grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to be grand mar­shal,” the Dal­las res­i­dent said, jok­ing that he wouldn’t have to guide the fly­over from the side­lines. “I’ll be salut­ing units as they march by.”

At 81, Cordier is the same age fel­low POW John Mccain was when the sen­a­tor from Ari­zona died of com­pli­ca­tions from brain cancer. Both men spent years in the POW camp.

But the colonel doesn’t fo­cus on deaths; in­stead he em­pha­sizes how many in his co­hort are alive and well. He knows ex­actly how many POWS re­leased when he was are alive: 430 of 591.

The po­si­tion of grand mar­shal is pri­mar­ily sym­bolic, though Cordier has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing hands-on with the pa­rade. He’s been in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing the event since its in­cep­tion in 1998.

“Ken has been with the pa­rade from the very start,” pa­rade op­er­a­tor Doug Gagliano said. “He de­serves a grand civic award for that, but he’s also a great per­son, and if any­one de­serves to be grand mar­shal it’s him.”

The pa­rade will be­gin at 11 a.m. Mon­day at the for­mer Re­union Arena site and will end at City Hall.

Sha­ban Athu­man/staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Re­tired U.S. Air Force Col. Ken Cordier, a for­mer POW of the Viet­nam War, will serve as this year’s Vet­er­ans Day pa­rade grand mar­shal.

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