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Purveyor's Journal
Posted by Purveyor in Editorials & Other Articles
Fri Jun 27th 2008, 05:09 PM
Hanoi - Of all the tales of wartime courage peppering John McCain's presidential campaign trail, there is one example of selfless heroism that stands out. Only in this story, the hero is not McCain but a humble Vietnamese peasant.

On October 26, 1967, Mai Van On ran from the safety of a bomb shelter in Hanoi at the height of an air raid and swam out into the lake where Lieutenant Commander McCain was drowning, tangled in his parachute cord after ejecting when his Skyhawk bomber was hit by a missile.

In an extraordinary act of compassion at a time when Vietnamese citizens were being killed by US aerial bombardments, he pulled a barely conscious McCain to the lake surface and, with the help of a neighbour, dragged him towards the shore.

Then, when a furious mob at the water's edge began to beat and stab the captured pilot, On drove them back.

Nearly three decades later, the Vietnamese government confirmed he was indeed the rescuer and, in a 1996 meeting in Hanoi, McCain embraced and thanked On and presented him with a Senate memento.

From that brief encounter to his death at the age of 88 two years ago, On never heard from the senator again, and three years after their meeting, McCain published an autobiography that makes no mention of his apparent debt to On.

It is a snub On took to his death. His widow, Bui Thi Lien, 71, said: 'In his last years, my husband was very sad sometimes. He would say, 'Mr McCain has forgotten me.' Mr McCain would be dead if it weren't for my husband. He would never have returned to his family and he wouldn't be in the presidential race today.'

Continued...

DPA

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/usa...
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