Rear Admiral and later Senator Jeremiah Denton has passed away. As one of the senior prisoners of war during the Vietnam conflict, shot down in his A-6 Intruder attack aircraft. RADM Denton displayed what could be called the absolute pinnacle of character, integrity and honor during his days of captivity and later as a Senator from Alabama.
I met RADM Denton many years ago, in the summer of 1974, as he was the guest speaker at the Change of Command at Fighter Squadron 43 when my dad turned over command to RADM Denton's Hanoi Hilton prison mate CDR Ned Shuman, the first returned POW to assume Navy command. This picture shows RADM Denton as he arrived for the ceremony.
A true American, without question, this bit from his obituary at Al.com says it well:
Denton in the Senate strongly supported then-President Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s buildup of weapons such as the MX missile and development of a space-based ‘‘Star Wars’’ anti-missile shield.
But Denton in an interview in November 2005 said he likely would be best remembered for two events, one when he was a prisoner of war in 1965-1973 and one that happened just after his release from North Vietnam in February 1973.
Denton, who served more than three decades in the Navy and retired in 1977 as a rear admiral, was shot down in July 1965 while flying an A-6 Intruder attack plane on a bombing mission about 75 miles south of Hanoi.
Denton, a Navy commander when he was shot down, endured years of torture and solitary confinement while imprisoned in or near Hanoi. He often tried to organize resistance by his fellow POWs as one of the senior captured U.S. officers.
During a TV interview arranged by the North Vietnamese in May 1966, Denton blinked his eyes in Morse code, repeatedly spelling the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E.
A native of Mobile, AL, Senator Denton served his state and his nation as a senator from 1981 to 1987, and was Alabama’s first Republican senator since Reconstruction, a true testament to his love of country (AL.com)
As we always say to Naval Aviators as they head out on that final deployment, "Fair Winds and Following Seas" means a downwind recovery. We wish you a good 20 knots of wind down the angle and the carrier with a bone in her teeth. Godspeed, Admiral. Thank you for all you did, from a very, very grateful nation.