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Jeremiah Andrew Denton Jr. is a retired United States Navy Rear Admiral and a former United States Senator from the state of Alabama. Denton served as United States Naval Aviator during the Vietnam War and was the Commanding Officer (CO) of Attack Squadron Seventy-Five (VA-75) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVA 62). On 18 July 1965, then-Commander Denton, was leading twenty-eight planes flying an A-6A Intruder (Bureau Number 151577), off the Independence on a bombing mission with Lieutenant Bill Tschudy, his navigator/bombardier. Their jet was shot down over the city of Thanh Hoa in North Vietnam, and they were captured and taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Denton and Tschudy were both held as prisoners of war for almost eight years, four of which were spent in solitary confinement. Denton is best known for the 1966 televised press conference that he was forced into as an American POW by his North Vietnamese captors. He ingeniously used the opportunity to communicate successfully and to confirm for the first time to the U.S. Military (naval intelligence) and Americans that American POWs were being tortured in North Vietnam. He repeatedly blinked his eyes in Morse Code during the interview, spelling out the word, "T-O-R-T-U-R-E". He was also questioned about his support for the U.S. war in Vietnam, to which he replied: "I don't know what is happening, but whatever the position of my government is, I support it fully. Whatever the position of my government, I believe in it, yes sir. I am a member of that government, and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live." While a prisoner, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. Denton was later awarded the Navy Cross and several other decorations mostly for heroism while a prisoner of war. In 1980, Denton ran as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat from his home state of Alabama and achieved a surprise victory over Democrat Jim E. Folsom, Jr., who had defeated the incumbent, Donald W. Stewart, in the Democratic primary. In doing so, he became the only retired admiral to be elected to the United States Senate, as well as the first Republican since Reconstruction to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate, and the first Catholic to be elected to statewide office in Alabama. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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