Archive for the ‘POW’ Category

U.S. Navy Hero, Medal of Honor Man, POW Honored

November 3, 2008

By Naval Academy Public Affairs

The U.S. Naval Academy dedicated a bronze statue of former Vietnam prisoner of war and Medal of Honor recipient Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Oct. 31, with the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable David C. Winter as keynote speaker.

“It would be difficult to imagine a better example of leadership, courage and moral excellence than the example set by Vice Adm. James Stockdale,” said Winter.

Stockdale, a native of Abingdon, Ill., graduated from the Naval Academy in 1947. On Sept. 9, 1965, Stockdale was the commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Commander 16 (CAG-16). He catapulted from the deck of USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34) for a strike mission over North Vietnam. While returning from the target area, Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He ejected, breaking a bone in his back, and upon landing in a small village, he badly dislocated his knee. His injuries went untreated and eventually left him with a fused knee joint and a very distinctive gait.

Stockdale was held in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he spent seven years as the highest ranking naval officer and leader of American resistance against North Vietnamese attempts to use prisoners for propaganda purposes. Despite being kept in solitary confinement for four years, in leg irons for two years, physically tortured more than 15 times, denied medical care, and malnourished, Stockdale organized a system of communication and developed a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior.

“Admiral Stockdale was a great leader who built others up and never put them down,” said Ross Perot, a friend of Stockdale and a Class of 1953 Naval Academy graduate who donated the statue.

Stockdale was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford in 1976. A highly decorated naval officer, he wore 26 personal combat decorations, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts, and four Silver Star medals in addition to the Medal of Honor.

James Stockdale Formal Portait.jpg

“Nobody wins the Medal of Honor. They earn it. He earned it the hard way,” said Perot, who selected Stockdale as his running mate during the 1992 presidential campaign. “He earned the Medal of Honor for his leadership by example and setting high standards for all the others who served with him in prison.”

Stockdale retired from the Navy in 1978 after serving as the president of the Naval War College. In 1979, the Secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership, presented annually in both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets.

In 1998, the Secretary of the Navy authorized the founding of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy, later renamed the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, with a mission “to promote and enhance the ethical development of current and future military leaders through education, research and reflection.”

Stockdale, a member of the Navy’s Carrier Hall of Fame, was the only vice admiral in the history of the Navy to wear both aviator wings and the Medal of Honor. In 2001, he was awarded the Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award.

“If Admiral Stockdale were here with us today, I believe that it would give him immense pride in seeing this gathering, and knowing that this statue will play a role in guiding and inspiring future leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Winter.

Stockdale passed away in July 2005 and was laid to rest at the Naval Academy Cemetery. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. William Crowe and then Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen delivered the eulogies. In May of this year, USS Stockdale (DDG 106) was christened in his honor.

Stockdale at sea during the war in Vietnam

Admiral Stockdale’s Medal of Honor Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners’ of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale’s valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Related:
What Kind Of Men Were With John McCain In The Hanoi Hilton? Men of Character….

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How Vietnam Shaped John McCain’s World Views

October 30, 2008

The presidential candidates’ experiences abroad have shaped their world views, and those views offer clues about how they would govern. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have expressed those views in memoirs. Newsweek editor Jon Meacham talks with Steve Inskeep in the second of two conversations about the candidates’ world views, finishing with McCain’s experiences as a POW during the Vietnam war.

Meacham says, “John McCain is not eager to use force….”

From NPR
Click to listen:
http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=96311166&m=96311150

What Kind Of Men Were With John McCain In The Hanoi Hilton? Men of Character….

October 17, 2008

One former Prisoner of War (PoW) said of his Hanoi Hilton experience, “We watched John McCain work through torture.  He tormented his communist captors.  We knew he had great character and he’d be O.K……

Meet Fellow POW Bud Day

By John E. Carey

George E. “Bud” Day served the United States through three wars. After quitting High School he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for World War II. He served 30 months in the South Pacific. After the war, he used his GI Bill benefits to become a lawyer and a pilot.

During the Korean War Bud Day served two tours flying F-84 fighters.


Above: USAF F-84E Thunderjet

During the Vietnam War he was shot down, captured by the Communists, escaped, and lived for two weeks off the land and in the jungle before he was captured again.

Bud’s Medal of Honor Citation reads:“On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Col. Day in dress uniform.

Bud Day is one of my American heroes. He is among a special class of people some Americans can never understand. To me, Bud Day is one of those Americans we can never thank enough.

We honor every single man and woman who ever wore the uniform of the United States on Veterans’ Day. We honor those now gone and those still living. But in one way, I think of Veterans’ Day as “Bud Day Day!”

But Bud is humble and would never hear of it. In fact, he may be a tad embarrassed by this essay.

But Bud teaches us never to give up. This is a most precious gift to many in life. By telling ones self to “Always Persevere,” the largest challenges in life can be overcome.

Bud is the most highly decorated U.S. serviceman since Douglas MacArthur. Because he always persevered.

I interviewed Bud and his wife of fifty-seven years, Doris, for this Veteran’s Day tribute.

When George Day strapped himself into his F-100 on 26 August 1967 for a mission over Vietnam, he had no idea he was about to start a six year odyssey of a prisoner of war.

F-100A with the original short tail fin.

He was a 41 year old veteran of combat in World War II and Korea.

He was in the Vietnam War by choice: at his age and with his experience he could have retired or taken a desk job.

“I went because it was my duty,” Bud told me. “That’s where I needed to be. I had more flying hours than anyone in Southeast Asia. I needed to be there.”

Doris still recalls that day, the day a chaplain, a U.S. Air Force notification officer and a woman from the base Family Services organization notified her that Bud had been shot down. “They were very nice, very professional.”

Among veterans and military people there are so many Bud Day stories, all of them true, that there isn’t room to publish all of them here. One of my favorites is this.

In February, 1971 Bud and several other prisoners at the Hoa Loa camp gathered for a religious service, which was forbidden. The guards burst into the group, carbines at the ready. Bud Day stood calmly and began to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”, our National Anthem. Commander James Bond Stockdale, the highest ranking prisoner, joined in. The entire camp erupted to the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Later Stockdale would write, “Our minds were now free and we knew it.”

Fittingly, five years later, the President of the United States presented the Medal of Honor to Bud Day and his friend James Stockdale in one ceremony.

Mr. Carey is a retired military officer and the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

This was first published in:
The Washington Times
Veterans’ Day November 11, 2006


Above: The late Admiral James Stockdale was also with John McCain in Hanoi

Rank and organization: Rear Admiral (then Captain), U.S. Navy. Place and date: Hoa Lo prison, Hanoi, North Vietnam, 4 September 1969. Entered service at: Abingdon, Ill. Born: 23 December 1923, Abingdon, Ill..

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners’ of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale’s valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

F-4 Phantom II in flying.jpg

Asked Why He Missed Woodstock in ‘69; McCain Says “I Was Tied Up At The Time”

April 25, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Visiting in Inez, Kentucky, Senator John McCain was asked yesterday why he missed the Woodstock “mucical and pharmacalogical” event in 1969.  The Senator, in his sometimes humorous and understated way, said, “I was tied up at the time.”

Actually, Navy Lieutenant and Naval Aviator John McCain was a “guest” of the communist North Vietnam government in 1969.  Sometimes we have to remind youngsters that the Hanoi Hilton’s room service often involved torture.
McCainWithSquadron.jpg
McCain the fighter pilot with his shipmates. 

I recently interviewed some men who served for the government of South Vietnam who reflected upon imprisonment and torture.  One, in a beautiful understatement not unlike Senator McCain’s, just shook his head “No” and said, “Situation not happy.  Not at all happy.”

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McCain Speaks In Inez, Ky 

By Juliet Eilperin and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 24, 2008; Page A06
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INEZ, Ky., April 23 — Sen. John McCain stood before a small crowd in this tiny Appalachian town with the same mission he has had all week: convincing what he calls “forgotten” voters who are traditionally hostile to his party that he is a different kind of Republican.

“You just expect us to show a decent concern for your hard work and initiative, and do what we can to help make sure you have opportunities to prosper from your labor,” he told a packed courthouse Wednesday, not far from the coal mines that provide most of the jobs here.

Earlier this week, McCain sought to assure African Americans in Selma, Ala., that he is committed to helping places ignored by “sins of indifference and injustice.” On Tuesday, he sympathized with workers in the fading factory town of Youngstown, Ohio. And on Thursday, he is scheduled to tour the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where residents continue to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

McCain is reaching out to voters in these Democratic strongholds to try to build the broad, center-right coalition that aides believe is necessary for him to become president. Advisers do not think Republicans alone can elect McCain, given how many have become disenchanted with President Bush and his policies.

McCain’s “Time for Action” tour is less about specific proposals; those will come later, advisers said. The important part, they said, is for McCain to lay the groundwork in places such as Inez to credibly claim that he cares about the people who live on the edge of the modern economy. In effect, McCain is launching Version 2.0 of Bush’s “compassionate conservative” campaign.

McCain is not likely to have an easy time of it. Appealing to blacks and rural Democrats may be difficult as job losses and gas prices have made the economy the leading issue on voters’ minds. McCain’s economic plan is heavy on tax breaks for big business and admonishments about not relying on the federal government for help. He proposes a cut in corporate income taxes from 35 to 25 percent, help for companies who depreciate equipment and other incentives.

“The Democrats do more for our area,” said Rhonda York, who works for a day-care provider and is married to a coal miner. “Right now, it’s extremely hard, with four dollars for gas.”

In his speech Wednesday, McCain offered none of the promises of government help that President Lyndon Johnson did when he declared war on poverty in Inez 44 years ago. Instead, McCain vowed to enact tax cuts that he said will spur job growth, incentives for companies to bring high-speed Internet here, and job training for displaced workers.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/story/2008/04/23/
ST2008042303253.html?hpid=topnews

McCain is Our Sort Of Guy

March 23, 2008

Let’s review the choices: we have a man who sat in a pew and worshiped with a pastor who is anti-American and anti-White.  This lasted for twenty years.

The Senator cannot divide himself from this man because he is a member of the Black Community.

We have a woman who has adored power so much she couldn’t wait to get her hands on the health care system when her husband became president.  But she was clueless about reaching out, building coalitions and making teams — so the effort crashed and burned in a big way.

And then we have John McCain.  He chose to be a fighter pilot — a dangerous and formidable line of work.  That profession got him into a prisoner of war camp — and into a life of torture.  He not only entered the life of the POW — he was a the role model for how good men might conduct themselves.

The communists said, after they found out that his dad was an Admiral, “You can go.”  McCain chose to stay with his countrymen.
McCainWithSquadron.jpg
McCain the fighter pilot with his shipmates.  Where are the photos of Obama and Hillary with their shipmates? 

John McCain served admirably in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  His detractors say he reached way across the aisle too much to the likes of Ted Kennedy.

That is why we like this man.

Obama continues to hug a pastor with too little redeaming good — and we write this on Easter.  He is the “Pastor Disaster.”  But Mr. Obama refuses to get a divorce. Even when he really needs one.  We favor loyalty, usually.  We put a high regard on those that honor their shipmates.  But not when the pastor is a disaster — not when he is a racist and preaches hate.
 
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, shown here with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

And Hillary, is, well, Hillary.  A Little Rock attorney of merit that linked herself forever to Bill.  There seems to be a certain lack of character there, depending upon what your definition of “is” “is.”

Her “boy” James Carville called Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico “Judas,” today, Easter Sunday.

Mr. Richardson replied, “I’m not going to get in the gutter like that.”

“And you know, that’s typical of many of the people around Senator Clinton. They think they have a sense of entitlement to the presidency,” said the one time Ambassodor to the U.N. 

US. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is ... 

“I faced in Vietnam, at times, very real threats to life and limb,” McCain said. “But while my sense of honor was tested in prison, it was not questioned.”
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John McCain as he came home from Hanoi.

US Republican candidate John McCain visits the Western Wall ...
US Republican candidate John McCain visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
(AFP/Menahem Kahana)

“Greatest Generation” Reflects on Obama, Hillary

March 13, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 13, 2008

In the current presidential election swirl, the word of the year is “change.”

Sal and Marta De Silvio are members of what journalist Tom Brokaw calls the “Greatest Generation.”

They asked me why we don’t hear words like “greatness” in the current political lexicon.

Sal fought in World War II, making landings at strongly held Japanese fortifications like Iwo Jima.  Marta stayed at home and became a real life “Rosie the Riveter.”  Both are now nearly 90 years of age.

After the war, Marta bore six children, four of which became U.S. military officers; one proudly dubbed “The Full Bird Colonel” in the United States Marine Corps.

To Italian-Americans who fled Mussolini’s Italy just prior to World War II;  this is as good as it gets.

Sal said to me, “I don’t see the vision.  I see a skinny rock star with no experience.  I see a former first lady.  They have never been tested. No sense of the greatness of America.  No real understanding of hope.”

I told him that many women in American believe Senator Clinton has certainly been tested and that Senator Obama has been tested in the harsh light of American racism.

He answered: “A philandering husband is no test and people need to rise above.  You think my Italian accent didn’t make me a ‘wop’ when I came here?  I mean tested like McCain – in war in the skies and as a POW.  A long time Congressman and Senator.”

He said that America still has a lot to do and it certainly includes improvements to health care, education and a host of domestic programs.  But, he stressed, there is unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran may have a nuclear bomb soon, and North Korea already has one.
Democratic president hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., makes ...

Senator Obama makes a point….

I was stunned by his broad knowledge and vision.

“America has a lot of hard work ahead and we better get on with it.  It won’t be easy,” said Sal.  He spoke about solving difficult problems and how it takes perseverance and patience.

Quickly I could see his point painted in the headlines of America’s newspapers. 

As we watched the space shuttle Endeavour launch from the Kennedy Space Center for a rendezvous with the orbiting International Space Station, the important thought was not those few seconds of “We have lift off.” The more important part of our space “endeavor” is the huge investment made by engineers, scientists, astronauts, mission planners, financial analysts and hundreds of thousands of others since the 1950s.

Endeavor’s mission to the ISS will last 16 days: the longest shuttle mission ever to the ISS.  A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration. Kibo, which means “hope” in Japanese, will be delivered in three stages. Once installed, it will complete the research nucleus of the ISS along with the American, Russian and European laboratories.

This image provided by NASA shows the cargo bay of the Space ...

This image provided by NASA shows the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Endeavour where the logistics module for the Japanese Kibo laboratory awaits being added to the growing International Space Station. Space shuttle Endeavour closed in on the international space station on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 for a late-night linkup that will kick off almost two weeks of demanding construction work.
(AP Photo/NASA, HO)
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Sal said, “I may be the only one my age that gives a dang about the space shuttle; but there’s American greatness.”

When USS Lake Erie, a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser, shot down an errant satellite on February 20 of this year, the missile and satellite intercept was rooted in a ship and combat systems development that began in the 1970s and a missile and ballistic missile defense effort that started in 1991.

We spoke in hushed tones into the night about struggles, adversity and “rising above” as he calls it.

Projects like our shuttle and ISS efforts take tons of sweat.

The same might be said of the war in Iraq.

The same Democrats that criticized George W. Bush for “Mission Accomplished” are now critical of Senator John McCain for saying that American troops could be in Iraq for a long time: maybe up to 100 years.

This should not be too much a surprise to a nation with troops in Germany since 1945 and troops in South Korea since the brokered cease fire in the mid-1950s.
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Tough tasks take time and investment.
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee US Senator John ...

Senator McCain photographed by Brian Snyder, Reuters.
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The United States is the richest nation on earth ever; and the longest lasting democracy ever. And the Founders didn’t create our Constitution and the other underpinnings of this greatness overnight: it took years.

Life, and especially foreign policy, is not a video game.  It takes care, patience invested energy and time. “Patience,” Sal reminded me, “is waiting to win.”

In a society now enamored by lighting fast cell phones and an American Idol contest that only has drama for weeks at a stretch, we might reflect upon American greatness and history which teaches us, without a doubt, that great achievements are only within our grasp after long-term effort and investment; and plenty of it.

John E. Carey is a former senior U.S. military officer and President of International Defense Consultants, Inc.  He is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

Back From Near Death Again: Cinderella McCain

March 6, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 6, 2008

Encyclopedias define “cinderella” as one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect.

Mr. McCain went to the United States Naval Academy and served as a naval aviator — but he was widely known for his rebel ways.  He was almost killed flying jets even before he went to Vietnam.

While flying combat missions from an aircraft carrier, McCain was shot down over Hanoi.  He landed in the water where his communist foes fished him out and beat him.  They took him to the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.”

He was now a Prisoner of War (POW) with severe injuries.

It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely fantasy that a Prisoner of War – tortured, alone, largely forgotten by the bulk of his countrymen, and lost in an un popular war – returning years later to win his party’s nomination for President of the United States.
Vietcapturejm01.jpg
 In a broadcast from North Vietnam, October 27, Radio Hanoi reported that an American pilot identified as Lieutenant Commander John Sydney McCain, U.S.N., was rescued from Truc Bac Lake near Hanoi, October 26, after parachuting from his crippled aircraft, which had been hit by North Vietnamese ground fire. The broadcast said that McCain had been pulled from the water by North Vietnamese soldiers, treated for injuries and jailed. This photo shows McCain in the water.

Add to that the fact that last summer Senator McCain’s campaign for the nation’s highest office was on its knees financially and morale in his inept staff was so low that the Senator had to entirely retool his campaign.

Rush Limbaugh hated Senator McCain and told the greater world so. And the Governor of Arkansas attacked him from the right.

Even the Democrats said they’d rather run against Senator McCain than Mitt Romney or the others.

If that is not enough, many Republican Party stalwarts, seeing Senator McCain dealing with and sponsoring bills with the likes of hated liberal Senators Kennedy and Feingold, claimed they’d rather vote Democrat or not at all.

And his wife had a well know drug addiction – now healed.

Finally (though there are more reasons Senator McCain is a cinderella), conservatives said McCain was flat wrong on immigration.

Yesterday, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, endorsed the McCain run for the presidency – meeting candidate McCain at the ceremonial entrance to the White House normally reserved for, well, presidents and heads of state.

Don’t count John McCain out.

A Vietnamese veteran of the war in Southeast Asia said to me, “He’s lucky to be alive. But what he has done since the end of his POW days is pure McCain.”

Vietnam showcases McCain at “Hanoi Hilton”

March 5, 2008
By Grant McCool

HANOI (Reuters) – In the prison everyone calls the “Hanoi Hilton,” artifacts in glass cabinets and black-and-white photographs on the walls recall the historic link between Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Vietnam.

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Vietnamese are mostly reticent about their views on U.S. politics, but they know the story very well of U.S. Navy pilot John McCain’s plane being shot down in 1967 over Hanoi and how he was dragged out of a lake to spend 5- years as a prisoner of war.The Hoa Lo prison, dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by the Americans, is now a museum and was visited by Senator McCain in 2000. Most of the complex was torn down a few years ago to make way for an apartment and office tower complex.

The Hoa Lo prison, dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by the Americans, is now a museum and was visited by Senator McCain in 2000. Most of the complex was torn down a few years ago to make way for an apartment and office tower complex.

McCain and other veterans such as Democratic Senator John Kerry were instrumental in helping the U.S. government establish diplomatic relations in 1995 with their former enemies, 20 years after the end of the Vietnam War.

“He conducted activities that had a positive impact on bringing the two nations closer,” said retired Colonel Nguyen Van Phuong, 81, who headed a Vietnamese delegation in 1973 that negotiated with the U.S. on the repatriation of American prisoners of war, including McCain.

“That is a point that Vietnamese people who follow current affairs do recognise,” the greying, uniformed Phuong said in an interview in his modest house along a narrow lane in Hanoi.

McCain clinched the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. media projected on Tuesday, capturing enough support nationwide to be the party’s candidate in the November election.

At the prison whose entrance still bears the words “Maison Centrale” from the 1899-1954 period it was used by French colonial rulers to imprison Vietnamese independence fighters, tourists pull up regularly in buses to walk around.

 

 

FLIGHT SUIT DISPLAYED

The flight suit and other gear worn by McCain when he was shot down on October 26, 1967 is propped up in a glass cabinet with a caption that has recently been updated.

“After returning to his country, John McCain became the Republican Senator from Arizona and he is currently a candidate in the 2008 election,” the caption says.

Exhibits describe the heavy bombing of Hanoi and say the POWs were treated well, but McCain says he was put in solitary confinement, beaten and tortured.

By coincidence, Pete Peterson, another former POW who became the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam in 1995, visited the prison museum on Sunday with a group of American business executives.

Peterson told Reuters Television that McCain “understands the benefits of having a friend rather than an enemy sitting out in a very sensitive part of the world”.

Without mentioning the U.S. war in Iraq and the inevitable comparisons that have been made, the former envoy said: “It’s just a very sensitive time in America’s history and it will be interesting to see how the election turns out.”

Chuck Searcy, a veteran who has made his home in Vietnam since the mid-1990s, said he hoped if McCain became U.S. President, his ties to the Southeast Asian country would help with wartime legacies.

“Landmines and unexploded ordnance which litter the countryside and which have impeded economic development and recovery, that might be enhanced,” said Searcy, who works on the issue through representing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

“We might get further along the road with the thorny issue of agent orange.”

Studies have shown the compound of dioxin, a component of “agent orange” herbicides sprayed by the United States during the war, is still present in so-called “hot spots” at levels hundreds of times higher than would be accepted elsewhere.

(Additional reporting by Nguyen Van Vinh)

Clinton Ally Belittles McCain’s POW Time

March 3, 2008

By Charles Hurt and Carl Campanile
The New York Post

March 3, 2008 — WASHINGTON – One of Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s best-known supporters, feminist author Gloria Steinem, belittled John McCain‘s ordeal as a prisoner of war and the torture he endured as a captured Navy airman.

“I mean, hello?” Steinem told a Texas crowd Saturday night as she was discussing McCain’s captivity by the Viet Cong.

“This is supposed to be a qualification to be president? I don’t think so,” The New York Observer quoted her as saying.

The red-faced Clinton campaign quickly denounced Steinem’s remarks.

“Senator Clinton has repeatedly praised Senator McCain’s courage and service to our country,” campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

McCain senior adviser Mark Salter said that the Republican’s 51/2 years in captivity indeed made him more qualified to be commander-in-chief.

“Would you put your country before your own life? Check. Can you perform under great stress? Check. Does it test your courage? Check,” Salter said.

Steinem’s slap at McCain’s service in Vietnam came during a “Women for Hillary” campaign event in Austin on Sunday night.

Her anti-military riff was part of her claim that the press has a gender-based bias against Clinton.

“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years,” she said.

“Reporters would ask, ‘What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?’ ” Steinem said.

She went on to slam military experience in general – an unusual tactic in a state with some of the country’s largest military installations.

“I am so grateful that she hasn’t been trained to kill anybody,” Steinem said of Clinton.

Michelle Obama Takes Heat for Saying She’s ‘Proud of My Country’ for the First Time

February 19, 2008

Provided by Fox News
February 19, 2008

Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, is under fire for leaving the impression that she hasn’t been proud of her country until now, when Democrats are beginning to rally around her husband’s campaign.

Speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Monday, she said, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Greeted with rousing applause after making the comment in Milwaukee, Obama delivered an amended version of the speech later that day in Madison, Wis.

“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change,” she said. “I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”

Obama was born in 1964, meaning her adult life began in 1982. Critics quickly seized on the newfound national pride.

“I am proud of my country,”  John McCain’s wife, Cindy, said at a campaign stop in Brookfield, Wis., Tuesday. “I don’t know if you heard those words earlier … but I am very proud of my country.”

Peace and Freedom Thought:

Knowing that the Republican front runner was a former military man and POW alone should have forced Mrs. Obama to think through her remark a bit better.  This was a gigantic gaffe for a liberal who will now be branded, and maybe appropriately, by many as un-American.

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Inside Politics

By Greg Pierce
The Washington Times
February 20, 2008

‘Reallygate’
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Comments uttered by Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle, in Wisconsin on Monday have led some conservative bloggers and pundits to question her patriotism. The Obama campaign said her remarks were misinterpreted.
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During a rally in the Milwaukee, Mrs. Obama said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am proud of my country, because it feels like home is finally making a comeback.”
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Later in the day, during a rally in Madison, Mrs. Obama altered the phrase’s meaning by adding the word “really” — “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”
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A spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama said any assumption that Mrs. Obama hasn’t always been proud to be an American is false.
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“In the context of her remarks, her point is clear — of course Michelle is proud of her country,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld told reporter Sean Lengell of The Washington Times.
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“What she meant is that she’s really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who’ve never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grass-roots movement for change.”
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Political strategists and pollsters contacted yesterday said the incident will have little or no negative impact on the Obama campaign.
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David Winston
, a Republican strategist and pollster, said because Mrs. Obama had made no controversial statements previously, voters will pay little attention to her comment.

“Once is an incident; twice is a pattern,” Mr. Winston said.

Bud Jackson, a Democratic media consultant, said only political foes of Mr. Obama will infer that his wife is not a proud American.

“They are going to agree with the spirit of what she is saying that they are especially proud that the country appears more engaged than ever and ready for a change,” Mr. Winston said.

‘Very revealing’

Michelle Obama [on Monday] said that ‘for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction,’ ” John Podhoretz notes in a blog at www. commentarymagazine.com.

“Really proud of her country for the first time? Michelle Obama is 44 years old. She has been an adult since 1982. Can it really be there has not been a moment during that time when she felt proud of her country?” Mr. Podhoretz asked.

“Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s elevation to the Supreme Court? Or Carol Moseley Braun‘s election to the Senate in 1998? How about the merely humanitarian, like this country’s startling generosity to the victims of the tsunami? I’m sure commenters can think of hundreds more landmarks of this sort. Didn’t she even get a twinge from, say, the Olympics?

“Mrs. Obama was speaking at a campaign rally, so it is easy to assume she was merely indulging in hyperbole. Even so, it is very revealing.

“It suggests, first, that the pseudo-messianic nature of the Obama candidacy is very much a part of the way the Obamas themselves are feeling about it these days. If they don’t get a hold of themselves, the family vanity is going to swell up to the size of Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon and send the two of them soaring to heights of self-congratulatory solipsism that we’ve never seen before.

“Second, it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good. There’s something for John McCain to work with here.”