U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano is now my congressman. He’ll hold that title until early 2019. He will retire from Congress then and return to private life.
Johnson is a solid Republican. I am proud of his service to his country. You see, he got to Congress the hard way.
He is a one-time U.S. Air Force pilot who in 1966 had the misfortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for nearly seven years. Seven years, man! He was tortured, sent to solitary confinement, denied sunlight and food.
He served heroically during his years in bondage.
And yet …
The man who would become president of the United States, Donald Trump, once said of one of Johnson’s Vietnam War colleagues — Sen. John McCain — that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”
Johnson became a member of what was called the Alcatraz Gang during his years in prison. They were separated from the rest of their fellow POWs because of the resistance they mounted against their captors. They were held in a camp about a mile away from what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”
Johnson was kept bound tightly each night in irons in a room where the North Vietnamese kept the light on 24/7.
These men were heroes in every sense of the term. I am aware of at least two Vietnam War POWs who received the Medal of Honor for their resistance: James Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton.
Stockdale was ordered to film a “confession” in which he would admit to “war crimes.” His response was to beat himself to a bloody pulp with a table leg, making him impossible to appear in any appearance in a propaganda film. Denton submitted to a filmed interview, but then blinked in Morse code the word “torture” to his audience in the Pentagon.
Sam Johnson also resisted mightily during his years as a captive.
As for Donald Trump’s assertion about Sen. McCain, you know how I feel about how he denigrated McCain’s heroism. Sen. McCain was one of many heroes who fought the enemy while locked up.
The same can be said of Rep. Johnson.
I hope one day to meet this hero … and tell him “welcome home”