Tributes paid in Vietnam to ex-POW John McCain

Tributes have been paid in Vietnam to John McCain, the American senator and former navy pilot shot down over Hanoi during the US war with the southeast Asian nation.

Vietnam's foreign minister said Mr McCain, whose death was announced on Saturday, was a "symbol of his generation" who helped "heal the wounds of war".

The maverick politician, who was a proponent of US power, was taken prisoner of war in Vietnam but after his release helped secure the repatriation of the remains of missing-in-action soldiers.

Image: John McCain (C) being pulled from a lake in Hanoi after his Navy warplane was downed
Pictures of John McCain being treated were used for propaganda purposes
Image: Pictures of John McCain being treated were used for propaganda purposes

Pham Binh Minh wrote in a condolence book at the US embassy in Hanoi: "For both the government of Vietnam and its people, Senator McCain was a symbol of his generation of senators, and of the veterans of the Vietnam War.

"It was he who took the lead in significantly healing the wounds of war, and normalising and promoting the comprehensive Vietnam-US partnership."

Mr McCain was flying his A-4E Skyhawk over Hanoi when it was hit by a missile and he ejected, landing in a lake from where he was rescued by nearby residents.

He said he was beaten on his capture and then transported to the infamous Hoa Lo prison, or 'Hanoi Hilton', where he remained in gruelling conditions for five and a half years.

Within a year of his leaving the military he had entered congress and in the early 1990s, as a senator, he, together with Democratic senator John Kerry and others, headed up the effort to investigate the fate of US personnel listed as missing-in-action during the decade plus-long Vietnam War.

During his involvement with a select committee on POW/MIA affairs, Mr McCain pressed for normalisation of diplomatic relations with Vietnam, something unpopular in the Republican party.

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Since his death on Saturday from cancer, a monument on the shores of the Hanoi lake where McCain was captured has turned into a de facto shrine.

Vietnamese people and US citizens in Hanoi have been visiting the grey, concrete monument to offer flowers, incense, flags and other tributes.

One message in Vietnamese said: "Condolences to senator and war veteran John McCain, who greatly contributed to the normalisation of Vietnam-US relations."

In contrast, pro-Kremlin media went all-out to condemn Mr McCain, calling him Washington's "chief Russophobe".

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh writes in a condolence book
Image: Vietnam's foreign minister Pham Binh Minh writes in a condolence book
Military Attache Ton Tuan from US Embassy places incense at the McCain Memorial in Hanoi.
Image: Military Attache Ton Tuan from the US embassy places incense at the McCain Memorial in Hanoi
Vietnamese veteran Pham Minh Chuc, 81, pays his respects
Image: Vietnamese veteran Pham Minh Chuc, 81, pays his respects

Pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda accused him of adoring war and said it hoped he was now burning in hell.

Meanwhile, more has been revealed about how his life is to be celebrated in the US.

He will be buried in a private service at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, where his service to his country began six decades ago, at a cemetery overlooking Maryland's Severn River.

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It will conclude nearly a week of events honouring the man, whose body will lie in state on Wednesday in the Arizona State Capitol and on Friday in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington DC, with a formal ceremony and time for the public to pay respects.

Former presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at a service at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday.

Original Article

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