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McCain’s Vietnamese jailer expresses sadness, respect over his death

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John McCain in captivity in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1967.
John
McCain in captivity in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1967.

Anonymous/AP

  • Sen. John McCain’s former Vietnamese jailer expressed
    sadness over the news of the former Navy pilot’s death and said
    he’d respected him for his “toughness.” 
  • “At that time I liked him personally for his toughness
    and strong stance,” said former Col. Tran Trong Duyet.
  • Many other Vietnamese people in Hanoi also paid their
    respects to McCain after the news of his death over the
    weekend.

     
  • McCain died from brain cancer on Saturday at the age of
    81. 

The man who ran the infamous Vietnamese prison in which
Republican Sen. John McCain was brutally tortured as a prisoner
of war expressed sadness over the former Navy pilot’s death and
said he’d always respected him. 

Former Col. Tran Trong Duyet, who oversaw the “Hanoi Hilton”
prison when McCain was an inmate there,
told the newspaper Vietnam News
, “At that time I liked
him personally for his toughness and strong stance.”

McCain was captured and imprisoned during the Vietnam War after
his Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down in Hanoi in 1967. One year
after his capture, McCain was given an opportunity to go free.
His captors discovered that McCain’s father had been made
commander of US forces in the Pacific and saw an opportunity for
positive media coverage of his release. 

But
McCain refused this offer
over loyalty to his fellow American
POWs, some of whom had been held in captivity longer than him. As
a consequence, he endured even harsher treatment and was
ruthlessly tortured. 

McCain is widely viewed as a war hero due to this bold, selfless
moment of defiance. 

As a US senator years after the war, McCain played a prominent
role in normalizing relations between the US and Vietnam
alongside then-Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who is also a Vietnam
veteran.

His former jailor expressed great admiration for McCain
over all he did to reestablish ties between countries that fought
a brutal war he’d served in. 

Duyet told Vietnam News, “When [McCain] became a US
senator, he and Senator John Kerry greatly contributed to promote
Vietnam-US relations so I was very fond of him.” 

“When I learnt about his death early this morning, I feel
very sad. I would like to send condolences to his family,” Duyet
was quoted as saying. “I think it’s the same feeling for all
Vietnamese people as he has greatly contributed to the
development of Vietnam-US relations.”

Many other Vietnamese people in Hanoi also paid their
respects to McCain after the news of his death over the
weekend. 

Vietnamese leaders, including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan
Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan,
and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also paid respects to
McCain and expressed condolences to his family. 

McCain died from brain cancer on Saturday at the age of
81. 

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