Information on Keynote Speaker Porter Halyburton:
On his 75th combat mission over Vietnam, LTj.g. Porter Halyburton was shot down on October 17, 1965 and captured deep within North Vietnam. No parachute was sighted, there was no radio contact, his F-4 Phantom jet was seen to explode into a karst ridge and Porter A. Halyburton was officially listed as “Killed in Action.” A memorial service was held in his hometown, Davidson, NC and a tombstone placed over an empty grave. One-and-a-half years later, as a result of information from a clandestine source, Porter’s status was changed from KIA to POW, only the 13th time this has occurred in American history. Porter was the 40th American to be taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese, held nearly 7 1/2 years where interrogations, beatings and solitary confinement were all too common. Food was inadequate, living conditions abysmal, and communication forbidden.
The story of Porter and Air Force Col. Fred Cherry, a badly wounded African American Air Force officer, has been told in a biography by James Hirsch, Two Souls Indivisible; Wallace Terry, in his bestseller Bloods, an oral history of blacks in the Vietnam War; the subject of a PBS Frontline Special; and a feature in Parade Magazine.
In February 1973, following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, Porter was released with the first group of POWs. Following his release, Porter received a master’s degree at the University of Georgia and served at the Naval ROTC Unit at Georgia Tech. From 1978 to 2006, Porter taught at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, as a military then civilian faculty member, teaching Strategy and Policy, International Relations, Leadership and Ethics, and the Military Code of Conduct. He was also the Assistant Director for Technology and Innovation for the College of Distance Education.
Porter’s military decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat V, three Bronze Stars with Combat V, three Purple Hearts, seven Air Medals, as well as numerous service medals and awards. His other honors include the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1997; Davidson College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1998; a Doctor of Humane Letters degree awarded by the University of Rhode Island in 2000; “Federal Employee of the Year” for the state of Rhode Island in 2002, and a Medal of Honor from the DAR in 2005. In March of 2006, he was appointed an “Honorary Master Chief Petty Officer” by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Upon his retirement from the Naval War College in April of 2006, he was awarded the Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award and was named Professor of Strategy Emeritus. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Andrews Sewanee School. In 2011 he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC. He has served as a speaker for the CNO’s Seapower Presentation Team; Senior Warden, St. John’s Episcopal Church; Chairman, DeKalb Council for the Arts; Chairman, Rhode Island Committee for Humanities; and Class Agent for Davidson College.
Porter grew up in Davidson, NC, attended Sewanee Military Academy, and graduated from Davidson College in 1963. That same year he entered Naval Preflight School in Pensacola, Florida. In December 1963, he married Marty Duerson. Following the birth of their daughter Dabney, Porter was assigned to VF-84, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence. He deployed for Vietnam in May of 1965. Porter and Marty recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and they are both involved in church, community, and volunteer activities. They share a love for gardening, travel, art, and historic preservation. They have three grown children and one grandson. Porter is an active public speaker, artist, poet and collector. They live in Greensboro, NC.