A war hero and an honorable Senator: Remembering the late Jeremiah Denton
Friends and admirers of former Alabama Senator Jeremiah Andrew Denton Jr., are reflecting on the life and career of the man many call a "true American hero."
Denton, 89, died Friday while in hospice care in Virginia. Denton's son, James, said final funeral arrangements will be announced soon and will include burial at Arlington Cemetery.
Sen. Richard Shelby, who defeated Denton in 1986's Senate race, said his former political opponent will be remembered as a hero.
"Admiral Denton will be long remembered for his service to America. He was a war hero, an honorable senator, and a family man who cared deeply about his country," Shelby said. "I send my deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time."
Denton, who served more than three decades in the Navy and retired in 1977 as a rear admiral, was shot down in July 1965 while flying an A-6 Intruder attack plane on a bombing mission about 75 miles south of Hanoi. He spent close to the next eight years as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war. After his release, he went on to serve as the Republican Senator from Alabama from 1981-1987.
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said Denton's sacrifice serves as an example to others.
"His life epitomized what it means to serve this country. I hope every Alabamian takes a moment today to remember Jeremiah Denton's story, share it with their children, and honor a true American hero," Roby said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, said Denton's words after being freed are an example of his character.
"After being freed from the Vietnamese prison camp, before returning to home soil, he again displayed his abiding sense of duty, saying: 'We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.'
"The city of Mobile, the state of Alabama, the Navy, and the Congress have all been honored to know him," he added. "I will miss my friend dearly."
Fellow Mobile native Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, added that Denton served as an example of a "true public service."
"He served the state of Alabama with distinction in the United States Senate, and we are proud to claim him as a native son of Mobile. I admire his passion for service and strive to emulate his example as a true public servant. He will be dearly missed."
Arizona Senator John McCain, a fellow POW in North Vietnam, described Denton as a "friend and mentor."
"As a senior ranking officer in prison, Admiral Denton's leadership inspired us to persevere, and to resist our captors, in ways we never would have on our own. He endured unspeakable pain and suffering because of his steadfast adherence to our code of conduct. Throughout his seven years and seven months in prison, and for his decades in public life after he was released, Admiral Denton exemplified our POW slogan: 'Home with honor.'
"My thoughts and prayers are with Admiral Denton's family as our nation bids farewell to this true American hero."
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