The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » John S. McCain, III

"I was privileged to observe a thousand acts of courage and compassion and love. It is a great honor of my life." (Video interview)

   John S. McCain, III
Collection image
Lt. Comdr. John S. McCain. April 24, 1973.
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Enterprise (CVN 65); USS Intrepid (CV 11); USS Forrestal (CV 59); United States Naval Academy
Service Location: Annapolis, Maryland; Meridian, Mississippi; Hanoi, North Vietnam
Rank: Captain
POW: Yes
View Full Description

John McCain's 5 1/2 years of captivity in North Vietnam were divided into two phases. Early on, this son and grandson of high-ranking Naval officers was accorded relatively privileged status. Then he refused early release--which he saw as a public relations stunt by his captors--insisting that POWs held longer than him should be granted their freedom first. Thereafter, McCain was treated much more severely, but he also had an opportunity to bond with his fellow prisoners. Those experiences strengthened his resolve and eased his transition back into civilian life.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (28 min.)
»Photo Album  (2 photos)
More like this
»Forever a Soldier
»POWs in Korea or Vietnam
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Choosing to be a Navy pilot; the futility of the air war. (02:07) How he was taken prisoner. (04:26) Refusing early release according to the Code of Conduct. (02:26)
Staying mentally alert while a prisoner. (00:49) How his captors used news of the anti-war movement. (01:16) Returning from captivity, readjustment. (01:48)
The inspiration for For Whom the Bell Tolls (01:24)  

Home » John S. McCain, III
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us