Through the Valley is the memoir of an American prisoner of war in Vietnam. It is the true story of courage, hope, and survival.
The author faced combat in some of the biggest battles of the Vietnam War. After being shot down and captured, he mustered the will to survive an ordeal in jungle cages, a forced death march of several hundred miles, and months of anguish in the notorious prisons of Hanoi. His tenacity in the face of unimaginable hardship is not only a captivating story, but serves as an inspiration to us all.
This is an account with lessons for those in service who continue to face the demands of combat. It is also a human story that appeals to a broad general readership across the United States and around the world, much as have other POW stories such as Undefeated and The Railway Man.
William Reeder’s story is different than most published POW accounts. Unlike the majority of U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine pilots who were shot down and captured inside North Vietnam then moved quickly into established prison camps, Reeder was captured inside South Vietnam and held in jungle cages in Cambodia before enduring a grueling forced march of several hundred miles. That march took the lives of seven out of his small group of 27 POWs. He was the last U.S. Army prisoner taken in the war to have survived his captivity.
The memoir begins with Reeder’s return to Vietnam on his second tour of duty. It carries through his missions as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot during the rapidly deteriorating military situation in early 1972. His writing puts the reader right in the cockpit in the churning cauldron of war. Reeder cuts to the fear and anxiety, the thrill and the horror of combat, friendships made and friends lost. The story continues through his shoot down, capture, and struggle to survive a long and arduous march up the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Reeder shares the torment and pain of his ordeal, but always in the light of the hope that he never lost. More than anything, this is a story of hope and renewal. His memoir reinforces the themes of courage and sacrifice, belief in self, undying faith, strength of family, love of country, loyalty among comrades, and how precious is this thing called freedom that we so often take for granted.