|The Grand Parade
XXXI Grand Marshall
Bill “Hawk” Albracht was born and raised in Rock Island, IL. After graduating from Alleman Catholic High School in 1966, he joined the US Army. Bill attended Infantry Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967 at the age of nineteen. He spent his commissioned career in the US Army Special Forces, commonly referred to as the “Green Berets.” At age twenty-one, he was the youngest captain to command combat troops in Vietnam. As the recipient of three Silver Stars for gallantry in action, three Purple Hearts, five Bronze Stars, as well as several other awards for combat valor, Bill is one of the most highly decorated veterans of the Vietnam War.
Returning to civilian life, he worked his way through Augustana College in Rock Island. After graduation, he became a Special Agent of the US Secret Service. Over the next twenty-five years he protected six Presidents and their families, as well as visiting foreign heads of state. He also worked to safeguard America's monetary system, and conducted criminal investigations for the Department of Treasury. Bill retired in 2001 as the Assistant Special-Agent-In-Charge of the Secret’ Service’s Washington D.C. Office. He then went on to manage Ford Motor Company’s Executive Security Operations and in 2005, he moved back to the Quad Cities and opened a security consulting firm.
Bill's book, Abandoned In Hell, tells the story of his most challenging time in Vietnam: In the autumn of 1969, he took command of Firebase Kate and its 150 soldiers. Within hours, they were under attack by a well-armed and determined enemy force of some 6,000. Under a rain of fire and steel and menaced by almost constant ground attack, Bill and his men held out for five days. Cut off from supplies and reinforcements, with all means of resistance exhausted, Bill led his men through enemy lines under the cover of darkness in a desperate attempt to escape and evade the enemy.