Kenneth Cordier

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Kenneth W Cordier (born February 16, 1937) has had a distinguished career both in the military and in the private sector. Col. Cordier is a native of Akron, Ohio and is married to the former Barbara Leighton of Abilene, Texas.


Col. Cordier graduated from the University of Akron in 1960 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He later earned a Master of Science in Management from Troy State University, Alabama. His professional military education includes Squadron Officer School, the Armed Forces Staff College, the National Security Management Course and Defense Attaché School.

Involvement with the Vietnam War[edit]

In 1965, he was assigned to Ubon AB, Thailand, where he flew 59 combat missions over N. Vietnam and Laos. In July 1966, Col. Cordier volunteered for another tour in Southeast Asia, this time to Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam, where he brought his combat record to 175 1/2 missions. While escorting a B-66 north of Hanoi on December 2, 1966, Col. Cordier's F-4C Phantom took a direct hit from a surface-to-air missile (SAM), forcing him to eject. He was captured immediately and held in four different prisons in and around Hanoi until his release on March 4, 1973.

After the Vietnam War[edit]

Returning to active duty after convalescent leave, Col. Cordier requalified to fly jet aircraft and resumed his Air Force career. He was assigned to Holloman AFB, NM, where he again flew Phantoms, as a Flight Commander and then Operations Officer. In 1976, Col. Cordier was assigned to USAFE Headquarters at Ramstein AB, Germany, where he was chief of the War Plans Division. He became Deputy Commander for Operations at Sembach AB, Germany in 1979, and in 1981 as Base Commander, was assigned to plan and execute the reactivation of Wiesbaden Air Base.

Col. Cordier culminated his Air Force career as Air Attaché to the United Kingdom. After retiring from the Air Force in 1985, Ken returned to the U.S., where he represented British Aerospace in Washington, DC, as Director, Military Aircraft. Since moving to Dallas in 1993, Ken has been self-employed as a management consultant and has served in leadership positions in several veterans' organizations.

Col. Cordier was held as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam for six years, three months and two days. While serving the country under the most difficult circumstances, he developed a strong personal philosophy relative to perseverance, goals and accomplishment. In spite of the brutal regimen of confinement and deprivation of food and contact with fellow POWs, Col. Cordier has made a distinction between the Vietnamese people and the criminal element, which abused the POWs under their control. He bears no malice towards the Vietnamese people, and believes that the time has come to engage in a constructive dialog, which will result in achieving our objectives through diplomatic means. As part of the healing process, Col. Cordier has made two trips back to Vietnam. On the second visit, he led a group of 13 former POWs to visit several of the prisons where they were held, then to tour cities and cultural sites in both the North and South. This trip was a success in that it not only helped the POWs involved bring closure to their experience, but served as a model for others who followed. Col. Cordier currently resides with his wife Barbara in Dallas, Texas.

First meal in freedom

Military honors[edit]

Colonel Cordier is a command pilot with more than 2,000 flying hours in fighter type aircraft. His combat decorations include: the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster; the Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; Bronze Star with combat "V" for Valor; Air Medal with 6 oak leaf clusters; Prisoner of War Medal and the Purple Heart. He also holds the Defense Superior Service Medal and 12 other U.S. and foreign awards and decorations.

In addition to his military honors, Col. Cordier was awarded the prestigious National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor in 1998. The highest award presented by the DAR was bestowed on Col. Cordier based upon his demonstrated leadership, trustworthiness, patriotism and service to the local community and nation. He was presented with the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge honor award in 1973, and in 1985 was selected by the American Fighter Aces Association as an honorary member.

Vietnam POW's in front of Maison Centrale

Other contributions[edit]

Col. Cordier has contributed to aviation books, The History of Air Fighting, by Air Vice Marshal J. E. Johnson, and Out of the Blue, an anthology of aviation exploits by Laddie Lucas. He has also published articles in periodicals such as The Officer Review, and The Free Press.

As Air Attaché to the United Kingdom, 1982 - 1985, Col. Cordier advised the Ambassador on all issues relating to the U.S. Air Force presence in -country, and acted as liaison between the Embassy and Third Air Force Headquarters at RAF Mildenhall. He maintained close coordination with the State Department on political - military issues during the politically sensitive period of the first Cruise Missile deployment. Daily professional and social contact with top Ministry of Defense officials and Senior RAF staff officers resulted in close relationships that greatly facilitated agreement on cooperative defense issues. Frequent contact with Allied and Warsaw Pact diplomats enabled Col. Cordier to enhance his knowledge of multinational relationships. In preparation for this posting, both Col. Cordier and his wife attended the Defense Attache' school. This provided a thorough understanding of embassy operations and the concept of the country team.

While in London, the Cordiers hosted frequent representational activities with host nation dignitaries, Allied and Warsaw Pact diplomats as well as American senior military and congressional visitors. LtGen Williams presents the Defense Superior Service Medal to Col. Cordier As Chief of the War Plans Division, Headquarters U. S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Col. Cordier was responsible for writing and updating all conventional and nuclear war plans for employment of U.S. air forces in the European theater. This included planning the $800Mil conventional munitions stockpile for both in-theater and follow-on forces. The actual positioning and storage of munitions presented a dynamic challenge to ensure that the correct munitions would be on hand to accomplish each unit's mission in the event of hostilities. Col. Cordier pioneered the use of threat-based computer modeling to determine the optimum mix of munitions required at each airbase to support wartime tasking. This saved millions of dollars in repositioning costs and rationalized theater requirements with the existing worldwide conventional munitions stockpile and planned acquisitions.

He was briefly an advisor to the 2004 Bush presidential campaign.[1]


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