Wellfleet general was Vietnam POW (Kenneth North)

In the last few months of his life, as Alzheimer’s gradually crept over his orderly mind, retired Air Force Gen. Kenneth Walter North began to recall vividly his years spent as a prisoner of war, a time that exemplified his devotion and service to his country.

It started gradually. A few years ago, after he woke up in pain from an operation, he thought he was back in the Hoa Lo Prison, often referred to as “The Hanoi Hilton,” where he had spent almost seven years of his life.

“His hip hurt,” recalled his sister-in-law Judy Sanders. “He thought he was being beaten.”

North found peace Tuesday, Sept. 21, when, surrounded by loved ones, he passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s, which his daughter Jodi Birchall called an “insidious” illness. He was 80.

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