April 1, 2014

The Death of a True Hero

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., Vietnam POW and former U.S. senator, dies at 89

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., a retired Navy rear admiral and former U.S. senator who survived nearly eight years of captivity in North Vietnamese prisons, and whose public acts of defiance and patriotism came to embody the sacrifices of American POWs in Vietnam, died March 28 at a hospice in Virginia Beach. He was 89….

Adm. Denton was a native of Alabama, where in 1980 he became the state’s first Republican to win election to the Senate since Reconstruction…..he remained widely known for his heroism as a naval aviator and prisoner of war, and particularly for two television appearances that reached millions of Americans through the evening news during the Vietnam War.

In the first, orchestrated by the North Vietnamese as propaganda and broadcast in the United States in 1966, he appeared in his prison uniform and blinked the word “torture” in Morse code — a secret message to U.S. military intelligence for which he later received the Navy Cross.

In the second television appearance, during Operation Homecoming in 1973, he became the first freed POW to step off a plane at a U.S. air base in the Philippines. He spoke through tears before cameras, expressing his gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve his country under “difficult circumstances.”
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Adm. Denton was subjected to four years in solitary confinement. Living in roach- and rat-infested conditions, he endured starvation, delirium and torture sessions that sometimes lasted days.
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Adm. Denton once reflected on his survival in North Vietnam.

“If I had known when I was shot down that I would be there more than seven years, I would have died of despondency, of despair,” he told Investor’s Business Daily. “But I didn’t. It was one minute at a time, one hour, one week, one year and so on. If you look at it like that, anybody can do anything.”

Jeremiah Denton for the Ages   Remembering an exceptionally courageous POW and an American hero.

Here he is blinking morse code - T-O-R-T-U-R-E

RIP with the thanks of a grateful nation.

Posted by Jill Fallon at April 1, 2014 10:24 AM | Permalink