October 26th, 2007
07:35 PM ET
3 years ago

McCain: I intercepted a missile with my airplane

Watch Sen. McCain and a fellow Vietnam war POW discuss McCain's time in captivity.

(CNN) – At a campaign event in Iowa Friday, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, commemorated the 40th anniversary of the day his U.S. Navy airplane was shot down – a day that also began McCain’s five years of captivity as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war.

“Many years ago, on this day, I was able to intercept a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane,” joked McCain, “which was no mean feat to say the least.” McCain was seriously injured in the crash but he survived.

“I came out of the Vietnamese ‘hospital’ in very bad condition,” McCain said Friday.  He was placed in a cell with two other American POW’s.  They “literally saved my life and nursed me back to health,” a humbled McCain explained.

Col. Bud Day, one of McCain’s two cellmates, also spoke at the event. “When they brought him into the room, he was basically on the verge of death,” Day explained to the McCain supporters gathered Friday.

Related: McCain counters 60's counterculture with service and sacrifice

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–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart


Filed under: Iowa • John McCain
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. R.McCall, San Jose CA

    A true American hero. I am a Barack Obama supporter. I have contributed to his campaign with money, volunteer efforts, and spirit.

    However, I remain a impressed with this McCains story. I admire his approach to admonishing the bush administration on torture, as well as to engage in war with strategies that at least create a level of success that a child would be able to discern (listen to the bigger kids who have actually had and won fights before).

    I'm still going to vote for Barack, but I remain thoughtful of McCain and how he was so cowardly attacked by Bush for of all things his war record.

    October 27, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  2. Sam, IA

    Remember 200 folks, remeber the whisper campaign the Bush people used against McCain, To angry to be president. Damaged mentally by his years as a POW. I respect this man greatly and had he chosen to run as an independent last time instead of hushing up as the swiftboaters did the same thing to his best friend, Yes folks, they are best friends, John Kerry,I would have voted for him. Sadly he chose to sit silently and sacrifice his record of integrity for his shot at Prez this round. Nonetheless this is a man of sterling charactor and totally out of the orbit of the miscreats and thugs in the present administration. They are much more Rudyesc.

    October 27, 2007 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  3. Colleen,ny

    America should realize that this man was seriously injured in a plane crash. He is apparently still suffering from his war stress as you can plainly tell by listening to him speak. A person like that should NEVER be in the position to become our president, that is a disaster waiting to happen.

    October 27, 2007 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  4. James

    McCain was a prisonor for FIVE YEARS! Gave Up Flag and Colors in Lieu of His Skin; Now, He's a Hero Wants to be My President? Not this time AROUND!

    October 27, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  5. J. McKinney SW MO

    I think McCain went through a terrible ordeal, and I thank him for his service. But does being shot down and captured, and surviving 5 years in prison camp make you a good president? Could not the same thing have happened to any of the young men in the ("Air Force" I assume since he was shot down) and does that mean any young man that happened to would be presidential material?? I don't think so. He needs to talk more about what he thinks now, not about something that happened that he had no control over years and years ago. I agree with above poster who says he is probably still suffering from war stress, and wouldn't be safe making decisions for our country.

    October 27, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Great, great man who I respect for his service and the story is incredible.

    Unlike others, he did not GO BACK after the war was OVER and re-enact walking through jungles and acting tough while VIDEOTAPING the whole farce.

    Years of service and years of capture all the while he could have gone home but he chose to stay with HIS PEOPLE, not three months and three scratches and run back home, he CHOSE TO STAY.

    This is a REAL american hero, who deserved every "medal or ribbon" that was bestowed upon him.

    I wanted him over this idiot Bush in 2000 and we are worse off for it.

    October 27, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Steve, Glenview, Il

    “Many years ago, on this day, I was able to intercept a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane,” joked McCain, “which was no mean feat to say the least.” McCain was seriously injured in the crash but he survived.

    He survived? Really? Well, DUH!!!!

    October 27, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  8. BIll W, Coatesville, PA

    I am also a vet, US Navy. While I admire John McCain for his courage and sacrifice during that time, I also think that being shot down and becoming a POW does not, in and of itself, qualify one to be president.

    If we look at McCain's record, he has supported president Bush on just about every issue. He is a senator of one the states hit hardest by illegal immigration, and yet he still fights every proposal to bring illegal immigration under control. He backs and supports Bush and the Republican administration on every issue – from the war, to stopping healthcare for children, to the attempted sale of US ports to Dubai, to defending Alberto Gonzales, to appointing the strict anti-abortion conservatives to the US Supreme Court, and on and on.

    John McCain will not get my vote shoul dhe win the Republican nomination – unless, of course, Hillary Clinton is his opponent. Because I will not ever under any circumstances vote for her.

    October 27, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Bruce, Bedford, Massachusetts

    "McCain was seriously injured in the crash but he survived."

    He survived? Please, Martina, give us a little credit, OK?

    October 27, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Michael, Orlando FL

    The question was asked: "But does being shot down and captured, and surviving 5 years in prison camp make you a good president?"
    Does acting as first lady for 8 years while your husband was receiving oral sex in the oval office, then moving to NY and serving a couple terms in the Senate during which you offer no substantial legislation make a good President? According to the Clintonites, she has the right experience for the job. Gimme a break! You folks are seriously deranged in your hatred for Bush and Republicans.

    October 27, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. doc75, Lees Summit, MO

    As someone who has met several Vietnam POWs, I can tell you that McCain and his fellow POWs are not mentally deranged nor suffering from war stress. Several commenters have stated that being a POW should not be the sole reason someone should get elected as president. No kidding. Neither should a person be elected president by merely being the junior senator from New York (or being the First Lady), nor solely by making a global warming movie, nor even by being a Vietnam vet from Massachusetts who comes back and stabs his fellow veterans in the back.

    J McKinney – McCain was in the Navy not the Air Force.

    October 27, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Dixon Benshoof, Des Moines Iowa

    Until the politics of becoming Prsident started this round I though Sen. Mc Cain would be an excellent choice. However, now I can only hear the same old stuff Don't tell me you fought for my freedom to speak and then tell me I can't speak about the wrongs of those times. I am a Navy vet who grew up in the times of Woodstock. Many were angry over that war as we are this war. We lost so many of our best people. As Mr Mc Cain knows well many suffered worse fates than death itself. Hillary wants to spend $1,000,000 to build a monument to some of these people. A drop in the bucket compared to the millions spent on the bridge to nowhere in Alaska. How about empty convoys in Iraq to support Haliburton. I wish all of you would stop trying to split us as a country and just tell the truth about you. I am tired of the insults thrown around at the citizens because of their political views.

    October 27, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Colleen,ny

    Many years ago today McCain lost his mind when his plane interrupted a missle. The plane survived, but not so for Mr. McCain. He has been in a vegtable state of mind since. Now the public is aware of how he got that way. Our sympathies are with you and your family.

    October 27, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. R.L. California

    McCain used to be a Republican I liked, but no matter his war record, he still thinks we should stay in Iraq. He still makes a joke about Bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran. He does not have the judgment we need for President right now in this critical time. I don't want him for President, or any Republican. I want out of Iraq and I don't want to escalate the war into Iran.

    October 27, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. MIKE ADKINS,CHARLOTTE,NC

    i admire senator mccain for all he went through because i too am a vietnam vet. i don't support john mccain and won't vote for him because of his views and that's all. but he is an american hero who deserves the respect we never got from that war. my only wish is that he could have bonked ole jane fonda while she was there and sent her home knocked up with an unknown infection.

    October 28, 2007 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  16. Dixon Benshoof, Des Moines Iowa

    Amen Steve...

    October 28, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. therealist

    Yes, it is to bad that none of the leading presidential candidates have this kind of experience to fall back upon if elected to lead America in this time of war..

    October 29, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Todd, Round Hill Virginia

    Just what we need, two presidents in a row who are not very good fighter pilots.

    October 30, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |