Speaking on C-SPAN3, American History TV, Senator John McCain, who served in Vietnam, was savagely tortured by the Vietnamese, and refused an opportunity for an early release until every man taken in before him was also released, indirectly took a shot at President Trump, who received four student deferments from serving in Vietnam, then, after graduating from college, obtained a 1968 medical deferment for bone spurs. McCain was discussing the failure of American policy in Vietnam and how the war split American society when he stated:
One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never, ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.
McCain, whose father, John S. McCain Jr., and grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., were both four-star United States Navy Admirals, had a harrowing ordeal in Vietnam. He had already survived the USS Forrestal fire on June 29, 1967, which killed 134 sailors, attempting to help another pilot escape when a bomb exploded and he was struck in the legs and chest by fragments. After receiving the Bronze Star for flying missions over North Vietnam, on October 26, 1967, he was flying his 23rd bombing mission over Hanoi when his plane was shot down by a missile; he fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, almost drowning in Truc Bach Lake.
The North Vietnamese who found him, crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him, then sent him to Hanoi’s main Hoa Lo Prison, the “Hanoi Hilton.” After six weeks of being beaten there, he was sent to another prison camp; in December 1967, McCain was placed in a cell with two other Americans. The other prisoners said later they had not expected him to live for more than a week. In March 1968, McCain was put in solitary confinement for two years.
In mid-1968, his father was named commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater, and the North Vietnamese offered McCain early release in order to look as though they were compassionate and show other POWs that elite prisoners got better treatment; McCain refused repatriation unless every man taken in before him was also released, as an early release was prohibited by the POWs’ interpretation of the military Code of Conduct.
Starting in August 1968, McCain was bound and beaten every two hours; he attempted to commit suicide, but guards stopped him. Forced to make an anti-U.S. propaganda “confession,” he initially felt he had acted dishonorably, but years later wrote, “I had learned what we all learned over there: every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine.”
Other POWs were tortured and yielded “confessions” and propaganda statements; McCain received two to three beatings weekly because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements. He was finally released on March 14, 1973.
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