During his early years as a naval aviator, he is involved in three flight accidents. After the plane settles on the bottom of the bay, he comes to, then manages to free himself and swim to the surface, where he is rescued by a helicopter. After an investigation, the official Navy report attributes the accident to operator error : "the preoccupation of the pilot coupled with a power setting too low to maintain level flight.
During his early years as a pilot, McCain serves on aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and Caribbean as well as at several stateside bases. In December , he flies another Skyraider too low into electrical wires in Southern Spain, causing a local blackout.
In November , McCain has a third accident in a T-2 jet trainer, suffering an engine flame-out that causes him to eject from the aircraft over the Eastern Shore of Virginia. In late , he joins a squadron of A-4E Skyhawk pilots that will deploy on the U. Forrestal, a carrier that soon heads to the Tonkin Gulf, off the coast of North Vietnam. On the morning of July 29, , McCain has another brush with death.
As he awaits his turn for takeoff from the USS Forrestal, for a bombing run over North Vietnam, another plane accidentally fires a missile.
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McCain manages to extricate himself from his plane, only to be hit in the legs and chest by hot shrapnel. More bombs cooked off. Body parts, pieces of the ship, and scraps of planes were dropping onto the deck. Pilots strapped in their seats ejected into the firestorm. Men trapped by flames jumped overboard.
A photograph showing U. Navy Air Force Major John McCain in a Hanoi hospital as he was being given medical care for his injuries after his Navy warplane was downed by the Northern Vietnamese army and was captured.
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McCain ejects, breaking both arms and one knee, and parachutes into a shallow lake. A crowd of several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me as I lay dazed before them, shouting wildly at me, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly…. Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin. Soon, an army truck arrives, taking McCain as a prisoner of war. He will remain one for five and a half years.
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After six weeks, he has lost 50 pounds and weighs barely With the help of fellow prisoners, McCain slowly regains some strength and is eventually able to stand up and walk with the aid of crutches. McCain ultimately refuses the offer, telling a North Vietnamese officer that his decision is final. The beatings and interrogations continue, and McCain makes two attempts to hang himself, earning further beatings as punishment.
Unable to take it any longer, he says, he signs a confession dictated by his captors. Told the following day to make a tape recording of the confession he at first refuses but is soon beaten into complying. No one would ever look upon me again with anything but pity or contempt.
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McCain remains a prisoner until the U. McCain is photographed shaking hands with President Richard M. McCain recently announced that he was discontinuing medical treatment for the disease, and inevitably lost his battle with cancer within the day. He was taken prisoner after his plane was shot down, and he subsequently suffered five and a half years of torture and confinement before his release in Bush, who are expected to speak.
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McCain and Trump shared a strained relationship over the last several years. Photo By Getty Images.
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One of his rescuers said 24 February , McCain was well treated after being pulled from the lake by villagers. McCain said that upon capture he was beaten by an angry mob and bayoneted in the groin. P File Photo U. Air Force Brig.