SIKESTON - A decorated military officer, who survived months of torture in a Vietnam prison camp, will be the featured speaker at the community's annual Memorial Day Ceremony.
Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Orson Swindle will address those attending the ceremony that begins at 10:30 a.m. May 26 in the Veterans Park. In case of rain the service will be held in the First Christian Church.
Also participating will be local veterans from the Sikeston American Legion Post, the Am Vets and the Veterans of Foreign War. Rep. Lanie Black, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, will offer the "Prayer of Remembrance" and Harold Myrick will sing "God Bless America."
The event will conclude with a 21-gun salute by the National Guard.
Swindle is the recipient of 20 awards for combat valor including two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
In November 1966, while on his final combat mission over North Vietnam, Swindle's plane was shot down and he was captured. As part of his imprisonment, Swindle was thrown into a pit where he was pelted with stones. Another time, he was chained to a stool and not allowed to sleep for 20 days.
Later he joined 34 other prisoners who displayed "bad attitudes" in a camp they dubbed "Skidrow." Among his cellmates were Medal of Honor recipient Col. George E. "Bud" Day and Sen. John McCain.
Released from prison in 1973, Swindle has continued to serve his country as a civilian. During the Reagan administration he served in the Department of Commerce supervising programs for rural America. In 1993 he helped form Empower America with former UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Jack Kemp.
In 1997 President Bill Clinton appointed Swindle as a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. He continues to serve on the commission and was recently featured in an article in USA Today on his work and the votes cast by the commission on consumer protection and anti-trust matters ranging from mergers to Internet spam to eye surgery scams.