Part III: Deadly Forrestal Fire and Commie conquests
Recalls one biographical source, “In 1958, John S. McCain III left Annapolis as an ensign, and went on to win his pilot’s wings at Pensacola, FL/USA.
“He served as a Navy flier in the Caribbean during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, his first mission over North Vietnam being in mid-1967,” when the current writer was also there.
Later — after having both survived and returned home from his five-and-ahalf year captivity at Hanoi as a POW — McCain told US News & World Report magazine about the people of North Vietnam and their reactions to his return as a U.S. Senator, as well as his to them thus:
“They still” (in 1985) “stick to this myth that the prisoners were well treated! I didn’t see any of my captors or guards. I hold no animosity toward the Vietnamese people, because I have hundreds of friends who fought on the side the South.”
“But if I had seen one of my former captors, I’m afraid that might’ve been a bit more of a trial that I would like to have experienced!”
“The Vietnamese people whom I talked to — always through an interpreter — seemed to harbor little or no animosity towards me.”
“In fact, they expressed a great deal of curiosity — and perhaps even pleasure — that I was there!”
“There was one interesting episode at a monument to my capture built by the lake in downtown Hanoi, the lake I parachuted into and was pulled out of on Oct. 26, 1967.”
“I still don’t understand why they built this monument! They even have the wrong branch of service — Air Force, instead of Navy.”
“Anyway,” (the late American TV broadcaster) Walter Cronkite and I and a film crew went down there one day to the statue. A very large crowd of Vietnamese gathered, all pointing to me and repeating my name--‘Mahcain, Mahcain.’ It was perhaps the only time that someone was more recognized than Walter Cronkite!”
His being shot down over Hanoi was presaged — in an eerie sense — by the appearance on Oct. 2, 1967
U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. Jay Coupe (left, center) of the Philadelphia, PA/USA Public Affairs Office of the Reception Support Team, escorts Lt. Cdr. John McCain (right, center) to a waiting US Air Force C-141 A Cargo Transport aircraft at Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, North Vietnam on March 14, 1973 as the latter was released as a POW.