john McCain, the Arizona senator who passed away on Saturday, lived lot of his life in the public political eye — however Americans began to learn about his famous courage at a that was especially absent.

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The saga started 51 years ago. Together reported in 1967, north Vietnamese airplane had, because that the first few years of the war in Vietnam, posed reasonably little risk to American pilots. That adjusted as the speed of war increased and the eye on both sides turned to the skies.

Amid the heated waiting war, a young marine aviator — significant at the moment mostly due to the fact that his father to be a height admiral — to be shot down over Hanoi ~ above Oct. 26, 1967, and also captured by the phibìc Vietnamese. His name was john McCain.


John McCain, (front, right) through his squadron in 1965.
Library the Congress/AP

And then, prefer so plenty of of the American troops that were prisoners of battle in Vietnam, McCain’s story seemed to pause. Word of what he might be suffering trickled out in bits, if in ~ all. In 1969, the relax of a team of POWs came v reports that, together put it, “the many seriously wounded among the detainees was Lieut. Commander john S. McCain III, boy of the American commander in the Pacific.” according to one previous prisoner, indigenous was that McCain had actually several damaged bones and also had remained in solitary confinement since August that 1968 — much more than a year at that point.

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By the moment McCain was released in 1973, Americans to be learning more about the therapy of prisoners in north Vietnam. The return of almost every one of the Vietnam POWs expected that former prisoners could finally phone call what they had actually seen — complimentary from the are afraid that your comrades would certainly be targets of retribution. “They conceded the treatment had varied for each P.O.W., that conditions had enhanced remarkably by the loss of 1969, and also that high-ranking policemans had soaked up the worst of it,” reported.

The details that consisted of “the worst the it” were grisly: scarcity rations, steel manacles, solitary confinement, the ailing left to sit in their own filth. The end goal of such torture was frequently the exploit of information.

But, in addition to those reports come word that American prisoners had proved difficult to break. Inquiry to perform the surname of the guys in his squadron, McCain instead provided the offensive line that the green Bay Packers. Once his renowned name afforded him a possibility to run the line to go home early, he refused; prisoners were an alleged to be exit in the bespeak in i m sorry they had been taken, and also he knew he wasn’t next in line. As soon as his cellmate’s damaged arm walk untreated, McCain fashioned a actors out the his own bandages.

Read more:’s special edition around the life of man McCain is available now.

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All told, he had actually spent five and a half years as a prisoner, through a comprehensive amount of the in solitary confinement. And, despite he was self-deprecatingly conscious of the irony of coming to be well-known as a military man for what he did as a prisoner of war, his story win a chord v Americans of all political leanings. And McCain, as lot as anyone, knew that such a feeling was rare — and something that have to not go to waste.