The War Hero
By A C
“I don’t know if it’s either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence, which doesn’t qualify the president as commander in chief.”
– Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to Face the Nation on his former opponent in the 2008 presidential election and the terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
While John McCain’s hopes may not have been realized in his political career, he must be noted for his persistence. It is obvious that there is nothing he wants more than power and influence over the American people. Most former presidential nominees fade into the background following their defeat, and often follow other pursuits. But McCain fully intends to govern, regardless of whether or not the American people elected him as commander-in-chief.
Becoming the present-day Moses was so important to McCain that he created central titles in his campaign that won the hearts of millions in his party and continue to follow him positively. Namely, the title of “war hero.”
His journey to proclaiming this title began at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Young McCain started with a clear advantage, as the son of John S. “Junior” McCain and grandson of John S. “Senior” McCain, who were both famous four-star Admirals in the U.S. Navy. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class in 1958 and was well known for organizing drinking parties among his peers. Nonetheless, he was granted a slot to be trained navy pilot.
His very first plane crash was on March 12, 1960 during his advanced flight training at Corpus Christi, Texas. McCain explained: “The engine quit while I was practicing landings… I barely managed to get the canopy open and swim to the surface.” But, according to a Naval Aviation Safety Center report, “In the opinion of the board, the pilot’s preoccupation in the cockpit … coupled with the use of a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn were the primary causes of this accident.”
Around December 1961, McCain, this time admittedly, continued to struggle. The now-Senator described the incident: “There were occasional setbacks in my efforts to round out my Navy profile. My reputation was certainly not enhanced when I knocked down some power lines while flying too low over southern Spain. My daredevil clowning had cut off electricity to a great many Spanish homes and created a small international incident.” McCain was promoted to full lieutenant in June 1, 1962.
After marrying his first wife, former model Carol Shepp, McCain had his second crash in 1965 in a situation where an L.A. Times report confirmed, “a close examination of the engine found ‘no discrepancies which would have caused or contributed to engine failure or malfunction.’” A little over a year later, he was granted a promotion. This career eventually led him to Vietnam, where he was famously known as a POW who nearly gave his life for his country.
In congruence with the history of his training, McCain’s plane crashed on his 23rd mission in Vietnam in 1967. He was badly injured when he ejected from his plane, as he broke both his arms and one leg. A mostly unconscious McCain fell into a lake, where a Vietnamese peasant, Mai Van On, and a friend lifted him out from his parachute, rolled him onto a bamboo log and brought him towards the shore. As they got closer to the bank, a group of men and some women jumped in to help haul McCain out of the water. Mr. On saved the fallen pilot again when he warded off angry villagers on shore. Although McCain mentioned that he was dragged out of the lake by a group of Hanoians and he reunited with Mr. On in 1996, he never mentioned him in his autobiography. Later, he was captured and brought to Hanoi Hilton prison camp.
After three or four days of torture and imprisonment, McCain promised to surrender military information if he was taken to the hospital. Upon realizing that McCain’s father was of such high military rank, he became known as “the crown prince” among the North Vietnamese and was treated as a special prisoner, who was given exclusive medical treatment from a Soviet physician. About two weeks following his admittance to the hospital, Hanoi’s press released specific military information quoting the pilot, such as “the name of the aircraft carrier on which he was based, numbers of U.S. pilots that had been lost, the number of aircraft in his flight, information about location of rescue ships and the order of which his attack was supposed to take place” (Sampley).
McCain admitted that he violated the Code of Conduct, but that it was only after being brutally tortured by the North Vietnamese. He recounted the aftermath, asserting that he was so distressed over having done this that he tried to commit suicide.
Over a period of three years, the U.S. pilot made radio broadcasts for the North Vietnamese, and was interviewed by General Vo Nguyen Giap – North Vietnam’s national hero – during one of these broadcasts, including at least one other general. On June 4, 1969 a U.S. story recovered one of his broadcasts where he confessed to bombing civilians and praised the medical treatment he received by the North Vietnamese. These broadcasts were used as propaganda to rally communist support in South Vietnam.
When McCain returned to the United States, he and his wife, who had been in an automobile accident, entered physical therapy together. McCain met his second wife, Cindy Hensley in 1979 and divorced Shepp in 1980. When asked about the affair and divorce, Shepp said, “The breakup of our marriage was not caused by my accident or Vietnam or any of those things. I don’t know that it might not have happened if John had never been gone. I attribute it more to John turning forty and wanting to be twenty-five again than I do to anything else.”
McCain retired from the Navy on April 1, 1981 as a captain and moved to Arizona where he worked for his new father-in-law’s Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship. Soon after he decided to enter the realm of politics, where he worked as hard as he could to bring all of the many life lessons that he learned in his military career to leadership in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
My next blog will examine the efforts of Mc Cain’s and Lindsey Graham’s campaign to criticize every move of the President.
Note of the Editor: I’ve not been able to write again as had to make another trip to the hospital. My grand daughter Angela , a JR. at Columbia University, has come to my rescue and will write until I’m up to writing again.
I’m happy to have Angela writing as she is a skilled writer and most blogs need the views of the youth.