McCain the War Hero Has No Clothes

mccain-navy-hat-copy.gifFor decades, John McCain actively cultivated the image of a “warrior” and “war hero,” the genuine article, toting that carefully crafted impression around like a Louis Vittuon carry-all. The problem is that the supposedly genuine Vittuon is actually a cheap knock-off, a piece of counterfeit luggage that has no more in common with the genuine article than I have with McCain himself.

After years of McCain perpetuating the myth, it’s time someone publicly calls McCain what he is: An exaggerator of his military experience and fabricator of his status as war hero.

To bastardize a distasteful campaign line he unwrapped not long ago, McCain would rather win a campaign than be honest about his wartime experience.

In fact, the record shows that the Man Who Would Be President was a not-very-bright Naval Academy student who preferred parties to studying and graduated fourth from the bottom of his Annapolis class; a mediocre pilot who crashed three jet fighters during training before being shipped out to ‘Nam where he crashed a fourth; an insubordinate junior officer who got shot down over Hanoi because he disobeyed direct orders to abandon his 23rd mission and return the A-4 Skyhawk he flew to the USS Forrestal; and, as a POW, willingly provided so much intelligence – admittedly, bits of it false – and co-operated so extensively with the North Vietnamese in exchange for favorable treatment over a three-year period that his fellow prisoners at the Hanoi Hilton gave him the derisive nickname “Songbird.” In propaganda aimed at the US, the North Vietnamese even used his nickname in a news release about McCain, not understanding it was an insult given him by prisoners who were disgusted by his behavior.

Two former POWs, Air Force Colonels Ted Guy and Gordon “Swede” Larson, told the Phoenix New Times in 1999 that they doubted McCain was tortured or harmed while a prisoner. Both Guy and Larson were senior ranking officers in McCain’s POW camp at a time he claims he was in solitary confinement and being tortured.

“Between the two of us, it’s our belief, and to the best of our knowledge, that no prisoner was beaten or harmed physically in (the Plantation),” Larson stated.

“My only contention with the McCain deal is that while he was at the Plantation, he was not physically abused in any way. No one was in that camp.”

Grandpa’s Lap
Put bluntly, the closest John McCain has ever come to a war hero was when he sat on his grandfather’s lap as a child. The first John McCain commanded naval aviation at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The candidate’s father, also an Admiral named John, commanded American forces in Vietnam for a time.

In other words, John S. McCain III (or “Johnny Three Sticks” as a Republican Senate aid called him when being interviewed for this article) not only changes his positions on substantive issues in the campaign, he totally changes the reality of his “service to my country.” No wonder he seems to have so much trouble staying on message as a candidate; he can’t keep the story of his life straight.

In the process of repeatedly violating the Military Code of Conduct during his time as a POW, he placed other naval airmen in jeopardy.

Declassified North Vietnamese and Pentagon records confirm that he provided Hanoi with detailed information about the number of airplanes on the Forrestal, flight paths into and out of North Viet Nam, how targets were selected, the positioning of rescue ships and the success rate of attacks from fighter-bombers based on his carrier. As far as can be discovered, the only thing he deceived the North Vietnamese about was the names of the pilots with whom he flew, for which he substituted the names of the Green Bay Packer’s offensive linemen. McCain has dined out on the Green Bay Packer story for decades, omitting the other, less noble, portions of his captivity.

Unearned Medals
If the fact that his father and grandfather were Annapolis grads kept him from being booted out of the Navy, then his forefathers also contributed to McCain being awarded 28 medals including a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit for Valor, a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze stars, two commendation medals and a dozen other service medals. But he only flew 23 missions – which amounts to a medal-and-a-half for every hour he flew in combat.

“There were infantry guys, grunts on the ground, who had more than 7,000 hours in combat without winning a medal other than maybe a purple heart,” explains Bill Bell, a veteran of Vietnam and former chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs – the first official US representative in Vietnam since the 1973 fall of Saigon.

“I can tell you that there were times and situations where I’m sure a prison cell would have looked pretty good to them by comparison,” Bell states. “But the question really is how many guys got that number of medals for not being shot down.”

Eventually, even the Navy was on to McCain. He left the service after being told twice that he would not be made an Admiral like his father and grandfather.

charley-james.jpgFor years, McCain has been an unchecked master at manipulating an overly friendly and oft-times biased news media. The former POW turned Congressman, turned U.S. Senator, turned Presidential candidate, has managed to gloss over his failures as a pilot and his collaboration with the enemy to become America’s POW-hero presidential candidate.

After Bush and Cheney’s 935 lies to get us into Iraq, isn’t it time for a President who doesn’t lie about everything, including his own life story?

Viet Nam Veterans Against McCain provided some research information for this article.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

If you’re born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarites of modern times.

Articles by Charley:


  1. Chuck Burgess says

    Being born in Milwaukee is no excuse for a patriotic American to be a Democrat. I am no fan of the Republicans, either, but only a worthless viper could admit to any affiliation with that party of treason and parasites. Grow up, Charley, and become an independent.

  2. Corwin says

    I don’t know about you Charlie.Could you maybe find a few more people who’d prefer a nice warm prison cell and recreational torture as a life choice?they’re kind of scarce where Im am.still this is interesting in a way.There are two points from literature your commentary illustrates.the first is the “Kindly old Burt Shooton’ syndrome-named after a sportswriter who simply couldn’t write something positive about a Dodgers manager.The Dodgers won in spite of,lost because of ‘KOBS,See,even getting torured is a political ploy.
    The second is the,”Why Chief Inspector Wregglesworth?On the other hand,why not?”This is a line Bertie Wooster spoke to Jeeves and has been used to illustrate content free musing.Why 935 Charlie?
    And Lisa G.How is Charlie’s service’brave’?Does he face financial or physical damage as a result of his statements?Has he had to work under dangerous or burdensome conditions?It’s not a secret I find Charles a little(more than a little actually) out of touch,but the thought of him being brve hadn’t crossed my mind.Still,it’s possible since Canada is close to Alaska ,the RCMP’S are controlled by Gov Palin.Seriously,Lisa G.THINK .You may like it.

    • Charley James says

      Corwin, if you read Linda’s comment more closely, you’ll find that she is referring to the commentators who said they served in ‘Nam.

      Still, in the Bush-Cheney-McCain era, it requires bravery to be a journalist, as well. According to Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency by James Bamford, whistleblowers who spoke to him on the record says that the NSA has been listening in to phone conversations and reading the e-mails of American journalists. Since the passing of the (Un)Patriot Act, I’ve always assumed that my calls were being monitored and e-mails read; turns out I was correct.

  3. Lisa G. says

    First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your brave service for our country. It seems that once again you are stepping up to try to protect us again, this time, with your voice and vote. I have been donating to the Obama campaign rather methodically over this past year, but at this point in the game, would happily shift those funds to support an ad campaign from ex POWs and VETS denouncing McCain’s false military record with facts such as these we just read. Perhaps you guys can really be that last push we need to secure our country’s safety from this self-righteous man who, until now, is using the sacrifice of other’s to pull on our heart strings and honor him as a war hero. Strip him of that title and what does he have? Nothing!!!!!!

  4. KenS says

    I always challenged people who think McShame is a hero. If a POW that openly corroborates with the enemy to receive special favors is a hero, what do you call the POW’s who suffered in silence or died rather than betray their comrades and/or country? Too many of the real HERO’s died, or were left over there, for McCain to be recognized as anything other than what he really is, A MILITARY DEPENDENT WHO GOT PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATION BECAUSE OF HIS FAMILY’S MILITARY TRADITION.

  5. Georgia says

    No wonder there were 14 Generals that stood behind Obama at his DNC acceptance! I have read two other articles about McShame, including one from a POW in the cell next to him and a mother of a MIA. They won’t vote for him either. Unfortunately there is no way the media or Obama can use this information without getting seriously attacked from every side. At least there is a group Vets for Obama that know the truth. I live in Georgia, and am shocked by how many people think because McSame ‘served’ he is better qualified. Somehow that makes hiim more of a patriot than the millions that became adults when there was no war to enlist for? Every person I saw at the early voting poll, was an Obama voter. So where are all the Republicans voting? Oh, I forgot. I voted with a Diebold card. Same thing happened with the Gore voting here in Georgia.

  6. BILL L says

    Well i posted 2 earlier on this sbj. The man is a liar! and he stated tot he Des Moines register how honest he was Has ne 1 challenged this?

  7. Bill L says

    Please if their are NE Other of us vets against war From that eara Please speak out about this phony He will hurt us if him and the space cadet get in Office ..Bill

  8. mzdrjune says

    An afterthought: This same man told the editorial board of a prominent newspaper last week that he is committed to 100% truth. I don’t get angry often, but right now, I’m “getting a mad on.”

  9. Bill L says

    As a member of CAG-57 (Carrier Air Group ), I have a few hrs of flight time I don’t have any medals for doing that at the same period of time as Mc Cane!!!! Now it was scuttle butt about the guy not following orders.. and got his (tosh), not sailor talk,shot down The guy is a hot dog an we don’t need him.I’m also wondering after reading the WA Post this AM mc Shame will ratchet up the mud slinging What does this have to do with our current economy crisis?? This is getting bad in my opinion But it is just like song bird Mc Same,, I tremble win i think of him and hte church lady with ther fingers on the nuk trigger!! Think about it wing nuts just think How will this guy solve our finicial problems????

  10. mzdrjune says

    The salient thing about this article is the fact that there are so many naval officers who condemn Mcshame for his behavior. There is no reason for the senior officers at the Plantation to lie about him. I’ve never believed he was tortured. I had never heard that he was disobeying orders to return to his ship when he was captured, but that is certainly consistent with other behaviors that are public knowledge. When other military speak out against him, it has a ring of validity like not other. Seems to me, and I’ve been known to be wrong , but seems to me most military men are very loyal to others. Why should they lie about him.? It seems urgent at this point to do everything possible to stop this fraud from becoming the next president.

  11. Andy In Red State Country says

    As a guy who spent 11 months getting shot at in Nam and never got a medal, it’s about time that somebody stood up and shouted that McCain is a fraud.

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