Tag Archives: POWs

How dare this POTUS say anything about POWs

Donald John “Private Bone Spurs” Trump sent out a message via Twitter that, well, is ridiculous in the absolute extreme.

It reads: On National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, we honor the more than 50,000 American warriors captured while protecting our way of life. We pay tribute to these Patriots for their unwavering and unrelenting spirit!

Oh … my.

As you can imagine, Trump’s salute to POWs drew the expected blowback from millions of Americans who remember vividly what the then-Republican presidential candidate said about a particularly famous former POW.

He said of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain — who was shot down in 1967 while flying a Navy jet over Hanoi during the Vietnam War — that “I like people who aren’t captured, OK?” He said McCain was a war hero “only because he was captured.”

With that comment, Trump set the standard for boorishness and crassness.

So now the president chooses to honor former POWs for their “unwavering and unrelenting spirit.”

Too many of us recall what Trump said of one valiant warrior. Rest assured, Sen. McCain’s outspoken daughter, “The View” co-host Meghan McCain, has let known her own disgust at the president’s faux pride in the service performed by our POWs.

For this individual — with his hideous history of draft avoidance and then his disrespecting of a war hero — to issue any statement on this matter would be laughable on its face … except that no one is laughing.

‘Vietnam War’ finally brings a lump to the throat

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick did it. Finally.

On the second to last night of their epic PBS documentary film, “The Vietnam War,” they brought a lump to my throat. They made me swallow hard. As in swallow real hard.

The moment struck me as I listened to a former Vietnam War prisoner tell of his release from captivity by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese.

His name is Hal Kushner. He was an Army physician who was taken captive by the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. He then was taken to Hanoi.

Kushner would be released in March 1973, two months after President Nixon announced the signing of the ceasefire that ended our combat involvement in the Vietnam War.

Kushner told of being greeted at Clark Air Force Base, The Philippines by an Air Force officer who said, “Welcome home, doctor.”

Kushner’s voice choked up as he remembered looking at the jet transport that would fly him and his fellow former POWs across the Pacific Ocean. He saw the letters “USAF” painted on the plane. “I saw this big C-141, this beautiful white bird, with the American flag emblazoned on the tail,” he said. They were going home.

The sight of those men hugging each other, toasting each other and kissing the flight nurses aboard the aircraft made my eyes well up as I watched this landmark series march toward its conclusion.

“The Vietnam War” has filled me with many emotions. Some nostalgia over my own meager involvement in that war; some anger at the way our returning warriors were treated when they came “home”; more anger at the sight of Jane Fonda yukking it up with North Vietnamese soldiers while sitting in an anti-aircraft weapon they used to shoot down our aviators; revulsion at the sight of all the carnage that occurred throughout the war.

The sight of those POWs coming home? That evoked another feeling altogether. I’m prone to sappy reactions at times, even when I watch actors portraying human emotion. I tend to forget that they’re pretending.

Not this time. What we saw was real. Man, it was good.

Mr. POTUS, apologize to Sen. McCain

Gregory Wallance is a lawyer and author who has written a wonderful essay for The Hill in which he declares it’s time for Donald J. Trump to say he’s sorry for defaming John McCain.

What’s more, according to Wallance, Trump defamed an entire corps of warriors who served their country with honor and valor in precisely the manner that McCain did.

Here is Wallance’s essay.

Sen. McCain, an Arizona Republican, has been diagnosed with brain cancer. His prognosis is not yet known to the world, although my sense is that doctors have given the McCain family a full briefing.

The point is that Sen. McCain served more than five years as a Vietnam War prisoner. He was shot down in 1967 over a Hanoi lake. He suffered broken limbs after he ejected from his stricken jet. The North Vietnamese who captured him stuck a bayonet in his abdomen. He was tortured, beaten and berated by his captors.

He was offered an early release. The communists thought they would win points by releasing the son of a senior Navy officer. The young aviator refused, and was subjected to more torture.

What did then-candidate Trump say about McCain’s service during a war that Trump managed to avoid? He said McCain was a “hero only because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

No one on Earth thinks Trump has it in what passes for a heart to say he’s sorry for defaming a valiant and gallant war hero. Gregory Wallance, though, has offered a stirring account of why such an apology should be made to honor all the individuals who endured the kind of wartime misery inflicted on John McCain.

Wallance writes: “In the decades after World War II, when more than 120,000 Americans had been POWs, insulting a former POW the way Trump did would have ended any politician’s career.”

Wallance writes about the raid conducted on Japan immediately after Pearl Harbor, about how Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his fellow Army aviators took off from the USS Hornet aboard land-based B-25 bombers. Their mission was fraught with peril from the get-go. They struck targets in Japan. Many of the men were captured by the enemy.

“American servicemen and women become POWs because they are serving their country in harm’s way,” Wallance writes.

He doesn’t expect Trump to apologize. He wants the country to salute those who served their nation and paid a heavy price because they fell into enemy hands.

I join in that salute. Fruitless as it is, though, I also demand that Donald Trump apologize for the hideous insult he leveled at a true American hero.