Jeremiah Denton was a small town Alabama boy who received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1965 he was the commanding officer of Attack Squadron 75 off of the U.S.S. Independence.
He was leading a mission of 28 planes on a bombing mission when he was shot down over North Vietnam and captured by the North Vietnamese enemy. For eight long years he was held as a Prisoner of War. During this time he was the Senior Ranking Officer and had to not only keep himself alive but had to keep the morale of the other American prisoners alive.
Knowing that he was going to be interviewed on television for propaganda purposes, he was determined to uphold the Code of Conduct, even though he was enduring torture and his men risked more torture if he did not give the television interview.
During the interview he repeatedly spelled out the word
T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse Code. This confirmed to the U.S. Military that American troops were being subjected to physical and mental torture, contrary to NVA claims that they were not.
When asked by the enemy interviewer about his support for the U.S. and the Vietnam War he bravely responded:
“I don’t know what is happening, but whatever the position of my government is, I support it fully. Whatever the position of my government, I believe in it, yes sir. I am a member of that government, and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live.”
In 1980 he was elected to the United States Senate from Alabama, becoming the first popularly elected Senator, the first retired admiral to be elected to the Senate and the first Republican senator to represent Alabama since Reconstruction.