Vietnam POW, Former Senator Jeremiah Denton Dies

Jeremiah Denton
Jeremiah Denton / Wikimedia Commons

Former Alabama Sen. Jeremiah Denton, a retired Navy rear admiral who survived nearly eight years in captivity in Vietnam died Friday at age 89, according to the Washington Post.

Adm. Denton was shot down during a bombing mission near the Thanh Hoa Bridge on July 18, 1965. Denton published a memoir about his time as a prisoner of war.

Over the next seven years and seven months, Adm. Denton was incarcerated in prisons including the infamous Hoa Lo complex, also known as the Hanoi Hilton, and the facility dubbed "Alcatraz" that was reserved for the most willful resisters. Also at Alcatraz were James B. Stockdale, the future vice presidential running mate of Ross Perot, and Sam Johnson, the future Republican congressman from Texas.

Adm. Denton was subjected to four years in solitary confinement. Living in roach- and rat-infested conditions, he endured starvation, delirium and torture sessions that sometimes lasted days.

Denton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980. He was the first Republican to win a seat in Alabama since Reconstruction. He lost his reelection bid in 1986.

In Washington, Adm. Denton was most outspoken on issues related to the preservation of the nuclear family, a goal that he sought to pursue through a $30 million bill to push chastity among teenagers.

Adm. Denton also chaired a subcommittee on internal security and terrorism, which focused on Communist and Soviet threats. By the mid-1980s, he told Time magazine at the outset of the decade, "we will have less national security than we had proportionately when George Washington’s troops were walking around barefoot at Valley Forge."