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born July 15, 1924 in Mobile, Alabama, died March 28, 2014 in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Former Alabama Sen. Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., who was a prisoner of war for almost eight years in Vietnam, died of a heart ailment over the weekend in Virginia. He was 89 years old.
Mr. Denton gained national notoriety in 1966 when he was forced by his North Vietnamese captors to give a televised interview as a prisoner of war. During the interview, he repeatedly blinked in morse code spelling out the word, “T-O-R-T-U-R-E”.
(Above Video: While reciting a script supplied by the North Vietnamese, Denton was able to blink the word “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” in Morse code to get the true message to the world.)
He was kept in solitary confinement for four of the eight years he was a POW, mainly because his fierce resistance led other POW’s to resist as well. He spent time in the “Hanoi Hilton” and the “Zoo” prison camps, as well as “Little Vegas” and “Alcatraz” prisons.
He was finally released in 1973 during “Operation Homecoming.” His first words after finally setting foot back on American soil were, “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.” He later wrote a book titled, “When Hell was in Session” that detailed his experience as a POW.
A year after returning home, Denton became commandant of the Armed Forces Staff College. He retired from the Navy
in 1977 with the rank of Rear Admiral.
In 1980, Denton became the first Republican from Alabama to serve in the US Senate since Reconstruction, after defeating Democrat Jim Folsom.
Then-President Ronald Reagan recognized Denton during his 1982 State of the Union Address.
“We don’t have to turn to our history books for heroes,” Reagan said. “They are all around us. One who sits among you here tonight epitomized that heroism at the end of the longest imprisonment ever inflicted on men of our armed forces. Who will ever forget that night when we waited for the television to bring us the scene of that first plane landing at Clark Field in the Philippines — bringing our POWs home? The plane door opened and Jeremiah Denton came slowly down the ramp. He caught sight of our flag, saluted, and said, ‘God Bless America.’ then thanked us for bringing him home.”
Jeremiah Denton: American hero and Alabama legend, dead at the age of 89.
Mr. Denton’s wife, Jane, died in 2007. They had been married for sixty-one years. More details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_Denton
Thank you for your service and sacrifice. May you rest in peace, and may God comfort your family.