The US Senator and his relation with “Hilton - Hanoi”
The last visit to Hoa Lo Prison Historical Relic by Mr John Sidney McCain was on June 31rd 2017 before he found having cancer and died at the age of 81. He had visited this place many times where he had spent 5 years and a half in his life with many things relating to the S shape nation.
(US Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee - John Sidney McCain, and delegation of Senate Armed Services Committee visit Hoa Lo Prison historical Relic, May 31st, 2017)
John Sidney Mc.Cain was born in 1936 in Coco Solo air base near the Panama Canal. Both his grandfather and father were US Navy Admirals.
The US started Rolling Thunder campaign on March 2nd 1965, in order to stop transport in the North and the route of troop and support from the North to the South. In July 1966, Rolling Thunder campaign was expanded to include both amunition storage and oil reservation in the North.
He completed 23 missions on North Vietnamese airspace. While bombing on Yen Phu Electric Factory on October 26th, 1967, his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down by soldiers of Vietnam People’s Air Defense.
John Sidney Mc.Cain (standing on the right) with his fellow naval aviators
He was badly injured while ejecting and nearly drowned after parachuting into Truc Bach lake. Mr Le Tran Lua and Mr Mai Van On were the first people who pulled this pilot out of the lake. Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh was the nurse to give first aid, said:
"Around 9 o’clock in that morning, while I was on a shift in a medical station at no. 180 Quan Thanh, there was an alarm, and all had to move down to shelter because a group of US fighter planes were approaching Hanoi sky. 30 minutes later when I was back to my position, I heard someone shouting: “An enemy pilot was shot down in Truc Bach Lake…”. His face was pale, his legs and arms were numb but his pulse was pretty good. His mouth was moving when I fed him 3 spoons of liquid. After some basic medical treatment, he began to feel better. Before moving him to the upper level, I tied his arms to the stretcher carefully because I was afraid that if he tried to move his body that would make him feel more pain." . After that, he was moved to No. 108 Military Hospital for medical treatment.
Soldiers and people in Hanoi saving Navy Major John Sidney McCain after parachuting into Truc Bach lake on October 26th, 1967
When he recovered, he was moved to “Hanoi Hilton”. Mr Nguyen Tien Tran, the warden had duty protect John McCain said:
"We saved this man, treated him by our best medicines even while we did not have for ourself. In Hoa Lo Prison, John McCain had a small bed, a basket. Fearing of mosquitoes, he turn his lamp on all day.
He received many letters, of course, we had to censor. In prison, he was provided tooth brush, tooth-paste and Vietnam Courier Newspaper. He was allowed to take a shower, walk for 45 minutes in the morning, and listen to French songs, and sometimes songs by Louis Armstrong, on the radio…"
Military doctor was checking the wounds of Navy Major John Sidney Mc.Cain
From the late 1972 and the early 1973, Hanoi was being bombed terribly during 12 days and nights. We took McCain to Duc Giang, a suburb area of Hanoi, to let him see the deaths and debris caused by the US Airforce
Witnessing the loss of Vietnamese not only make McCain deeply understand about the war but also help him to have more sentiment to this country years later.
After Paris agreement on ending war and restoring peace in Vietnam was signed, on 14th March 1973, John McCain, toghether with other pilots, were released an Gia Lam airport.
John Sidney McCain (first line to the right) before being repatriated in Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi on March 14th, 1973
Coming back from Vietnam, John Sidney McCain continue to serve in the US Navy. In 1981 he joined politics. He was eclected as member of the House of Representative in 1982 and as member of Senate in 1986. As a Senator, John McCain made decisions to support Vietnam and the friendship between Vietnam and the US such as: The diplomatic normalisation between the US and Vietnam in 1995; Resolution to remove the supersision of catfish by US Department of Agriculture, anti-dumping against Vietnam, remove the ban on selling weapons to Vietnam.
McCain participate in the American presidential election as candidate of the Republican Party in the 2000 and 2008. He came back to Hoa Lo Prison Historical Relic many times where he had spent 5 years and a half in his life with many things relating to the S shape nation
Lại Thị Minh Thu - Education and Communication department
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