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McCain’s miracle of the cross

According to John McCain, he was visited by a mysterious Christian North Vietnamese prison guard twice in 1969 and “often” thereafter. The timeline of these visitations is interesting.

Starting in December 1967, McCain was held in a prison camp in northeast Hanoi that the prisoners referred to as “The Plantation.” In May of 1969, McCain received his first visit from the saintly prison guard, as described in his May 14, 1973, article in US News and World Report, “John McCain, Prisoner of War: A First-Person Account”:

“It was also in May, 1969, that they wanted me to write—as I remember—a letter to U. S. pilots who were flying over North Vietnam asking them not to do it. I was being forced to stand up continuously—sometimes they’d make you stand up or sit on a stool for a long period of time. I’d stood up for a couple of days, with a respite only because one of the guards—the only real human being that I ever met over there—let me lie down for a couple of hours while he was on watch the middle of one night.”

McCain described this event slightly differently in his 1999 book Faith of My Fathers:

“After one difficult interrogation, I was left in the interrogation room for the night, tied in ropes. A gun guard, whom I had noticed before but had never spoken to, was working the night shift, 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m. A short time after the interrogators had left me to ponder my bad attitude for the evening, this guard entered the room and silently, without looking at or smiling at me, loosened the ropes, and then he left me alone. A few minutes before his shift ended, he returned and tightened up the ropes.”

Later that year, McCain was moved to a different prison:

“In December of 1969 I was moved from “The Plantation” over to “Las Vegas.” “Las Vegas” was a small area of Hoala Prison which was built by the French in 1945. It was known as the “Hanoi Hilton” to Americans.” –John McCain, US News and World Report, May 14, 1973

In that 1973 article, McCain didn’t say whether the move to the Hanoi Hilton, which was located in downtown Hanoi, took place before or after Christmas. But since he received another wordless visitation from the secretly Christian communist prison guard on Christmas Day [a story curiously omitted from the aforementioned 23-page 12,000-word 1973 article], it makes more sense that he was transferred to the Hanoi Hilton during the week after Christmas:

“One Christmas, a few months after the gun guard had inexplicably come to my assistance during my long night in the interrogation room, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw him approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me. Again, he didn’t smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us. After a few moments had passed he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.”Faith of My Fathers, 1999

Of course it’s possible that McCain’s transfer to the Hanoi Hilton occurred before Christmas, assuming that the secret Christian was transferred along with John. But would the Hanoi Hilton have a dirt courtyard?

Be that as it may, after this second visitation, McCain saw the secret Christian “often,” presumably after they were indeed both transferred to the Hanoi Hilton in December 1969, either before or after Christmas:

“I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together. But he never said a word to me nor gave the slightest signal that he acknowledged my humanity.”Faith of My Fathers, 1999

So what are the chances that a communist-but-secretly-Christian apparently low-level North Vietnamese prison guard with whom McCain never exchanged a word would have accompanied John in his move across town from The Plantation to the Hanoi Hilton?

I’d say it’s a miracle.

4 comments to McCain’s miracle of the cross

  • Judi Miles

    Apparently you missed the news reports that revealed the truth behind this story. John McCain lifted his “Cross in the Dirt” story from The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

  • Deward Bowles

    The McCain website released a statement from Swindle saying he remembered McCain telling him the cross story in 1971.

    Problem is Swindle is not telling the truth.

    Get this Politco ran a story about McCain’s cross story April the 4th 2008 and Swindle was specifically interviewed on the story.

    “I don’t recall us talking specifically about our faith,” says Orson Swindle, one of McCain’s closest friends and a fellow POW. “We talked about our friends, families, our resistance posture, and that our country didn’t seem to have the will to win.”

    Belief in a higher power helped them survive the routine torture and daily indignities, Swindle says.

    “It would help us endure what we had to endure. But we knew God wasn’t going to come down and wave a magic wand.”

    http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=1372E056-3048-5C12-00A06112B1C61A64

    McCain is going to have to do better than Swindle on this one.

  • Prof. Challenger

    Didn’t it take John, I was a POW you know, McCrazypants less than 24 hours to sign a confession?

    Hasn’t it been reported that Johnny received special treatment because he was an admiral’s son?

    Prof.

  • Hey, congrats on getting the USN&WR link correct!! Lovely story (in every sense of the word). I may be dealing w/ at least one line I noticed while scrolling through.