Through the Valley is the captivating memoir of the last U.S. Army 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.Read more...
Through the Valley is the captivating memoir of the last U.S. Army 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 William 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 twenty-seven 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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Reeder, a former U.S. Army colonel, shares his harrowing experience as a prisoner of war after his Cobra helicopter was shot down on May 9, 1972, near Ben Het, Vietnam. Reeder was incredibly fortunate to survive the crash, as his copilot was killed and he was severely injured: "hanging out the side of the Cobra, head down with my feet stuck in the cockpit, the helicopter burning." Nearly paralyzed and without a weapon, Reeder survived for three days in the jungle before being captured. Then he somehow made it through several weeks penned up in a tortuous jungle prison camp in South Vietnam, an excruciating forced march to Hanoi, and imprisonment in the infamous North Vietnamese prison known as the "Hanoi Hilton." With the exception of some reconstructed dialogue, the tale rings true. Reeder evocatively shares his distressing, yet ultimately uplifting, story of survival against the odds, and even though readers know Reeder will make it through, this account will keep them engaged until the end. (Apr.)