Ken Cordier was born in 1937 in Canton, Ohio. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Akron on July 16, 1960, and was trained as a Minuteman Missile Launch Officer in 1961, later serving as an instructor in the course before entering Undergraduate Pilot Training in January 1963. Lt Cordier was awarded his pilot wings on December 19, 1964, and then completed F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training. He then flew F-4s with the 45th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Florida, and then flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 45th TFS in January 1965 while deployed to Ubon RTAFB, Thailand. Cordier volunteered for another tour in June 1966, this time flying out of Cam Ranh Bay AB in the Republic of Vietnam. On December 2, 1966, while flying his 176th combat mission, Cordier was forced to eject over North Vietnam after his F-4 took a direct hit from a surface-to-air missile. He was immediately captured and spent the next 2,284 days as a Prisoner of War before being released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. After hospitalization, he attended the Armed Forces Staff College and then requalified to fly jet fighters. From 1979 to 1981, he directed the flying operations at Sembach AB in West Germany, and was then selected to command the reactivation of Wiesbaden AB, also in West Germany. Col Cordier served as Air Attache to the United Kingdom, based at the U.S. Embassy in London, from 1982 until his retirement from the Air Force on January 31, 1985. After his retirement, Ken represented British Aerospace in Washington, D.C., as Director of Military Aircraft. He is a past President of NAM-POWs and the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association. Col Cordier wears Command Pilot Wings as well as the Air Force Missile Badge, and accumulated over 2,000 flying hours in fighter aircraft during his Air Force career. Ken is married to the former Barbara Leighton of Abilene, Texas, and they have one daughter, Ann.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Captain Kenneth W. Cordier distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F-4C Pilot in Southeast Asia on 11 November 1966. On that date, Captain Cordier was the Mission Commander leading a flight against a target in North Vietnam. His first pass in the target area drew heavy hostile reaction and his wingmen were downed on their initial passes. Completely disregarding his own personal safety, Captain Cordier immediately initiated rescue procedures and delivered his remaining ordnance on the nearby target. Captain Cordier then remained in the area to provide assistance to inbound rescue aircraft until his low fuel state dictated his departure from the area. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Cordier has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.