45th anniversary of Sen. John McCain’s release from North Vietnam as a prisoner of war

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — March 14 marks the 45th anniversary of the release of Senator John McCain by the North Vietnamese where he was held as a prisoner of war for over five years.

Senator McCain was taken captive on October 26, 1967 after the A-4E Skyhawk he was flying over Hanoi in North Vietnam was shot down by a missile.

According to the Washington Post, McCain broke both his arms and his right leg during his attempt to eject the aircraft.

He was captured and taken to Hanoi Hilton prison where he was further beaten, tortured and kept in solitary confinement for two years.

While the North Vietnamese interrogated him, he said. “I refused to give them anything except my name, rank, serial number and date of birth,” McCain said in the U.S. News report. “I was in such a bad shape that when they hit me it would knock me unconscious.”

His injuries from the plane crash worsened and his captors refused to treat him, leaving him permanently unable to lift his arms above his head.

According to the Washington Post, several months into his imprisonment, McCain’s father — Adm. John S. McCain Jr. — was named the Pentagon’s commander in chief for the Pacific, ultimately responsible for prosecuting the Vietnam War. In December 1972, Adm. McCain ordered B-52 bombing raids on Hanoi — also known as “The Christmas Bombings” — and in January of 1973, peace accords ending the war were signed.

On March 14, 1973, McCain and the other American soldiers being held captive were released and sent home.

U.S. News interviewed McCain shortly after his return. He gave a detailed, first-person account of his time in North Vietnam.

“I had a lot of time to think over there, and came to the conclusion that one of the most important things in life—along with a man’s family—is to make some contribution to his country,” McCain said.

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