John McCain Gives More than Name, Rank, and Serial Number

From a CIA Freedom of Information Request.

Following are the notes from Dr. Barral’s interview with the Yankee pilot:

Could you tell me your name serial number, and rank?

“My name is John Sidney McCain and I am a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy- serial No. 624787.”

He added: “I understand and speak some Spanish. I studied it in school and I have been in Spain several times. On one of those occasions I visited the Naval Academy and met Prince Carlos…”

In the course of the interview, on various occasions he showed that knowledge of the language, saying some words, dates, and so forth in Spanish, or [using it] when he thought the interpreter was seeking the corresponding French word.

Naturally, from the very beginning this established a more direct communication between us, and more than one question or my response was made directly in Spanish.

Immediately afterward I asked him about the date and circumstances of his capture.

“On 26 October 1967 I was overflying Hanoi in an A4E plane based on the carrier Oriskany when my plane was hit by a ground-to-air-missile.

“I bailed out, colliding in the air with the remains of the plane, and I landed in one of the lakes in the center of Hanoi, in the middle of the water. On landing I tried to get free of my parachute, but I could not move, and I did not realize why I could not move my arms or legs, but it was because of the injuries.”

Injuries?

“Yes, as a result of colliding with the remains of the plane, I fractured my right leg at the knee, and both arms, the right one in three places. Moreover, I dislocated both shoulders.”

When he told me this I superficially examined his ability to move his arms, which is almost unrestricted (only he has some difficulty bending his arm all the way). Also his grip is normal. Aside from this, he uses a crutch on the right side only, which shows normal functional ability of the extremity most affected by the traumatism.

What happened next? That is, what was the capture itself like?

“Well, many people gathered around since it was the center of Hanoi at midday.”

Soldiers, militiamen, or civilians?

“I could not determine exactly, because they had removed their clothing in order to take me out of the water.”

Well, go on.

“From there, they took me to a military hospital in Hanoi, a large hospital where they operated on me and attended to the multiple fractures. I understand I received more than a liter of blood…”

Were you the object of any physical or moral violence?

“No, although at the time of capture I could sense the peoples’ hate or indignation, there were no insults of violence of any type. On the contrary, you have seen how I am recovering from my injuries.”

But were you not afraid of being the object of violent treatment if you were captured…?

“Actually, I never thought I would become a prisoner; therefore those fears never came up.”

Did you never think of the possibility of being captured?

“No, I was traveling at a high altitude. I felt completely safe in the plane…I am considered one of the best pilots…”

We had closed one subject, between sips of coffee enjoyed equally by the pilot and me, but the cakes and oranges have not been touched. I motioned to the pilot, and I began to peel an orange. Soon afterward, we reopened the conversation.

There’s more here.  And take a look at this.

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One Response to “John McCain Gives More than Name, Rank, and Serial Number”

  1. John S. Says:

    There are a collection of CIA and Defense Department files at http://www.paperlessarchives.com/mccainciafiles.html related to Jon McCain’s captivity as a POW during the Vietnam War. Includes transcripts of propaganda broadcasts using McCain, a report written by his father Admiral McCain about POWs and the Vietnam War, and a collection of CIA files with things like intelligence reports on the “Hanoi Hilton.”

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