On July 18, 1965, Denton was leading a group of twenty-eight aircraft from the USS Independence in an attack on enemy installations near Thanh Hoa, when he was shot down and captured by local North Vietnamese troops.
He spent the next seven years and seven months as a prisoner of war, suffering severe mistreatment and becoming the first U.S. military captive to be subjected to four years of solitary confinement. His book about that ordeal is called, “When Hell was in Session.”
A commander when he was shot down, Denton was recommended for and promoted to the rank of captain while a prisoner. He was confined at several prison camps in and around Hanoi, frequently acting as the senior American military officer of all American POW’s.
Denton was elected to the Senate in November 1980. In so doing, he became the first Republican ever elected by popular vote to the U S. Senate from Alabama. He served until 1987.
Denton is famous for sending a message using Morse code with his eyes during a 1966 interview in a Vietnamese prison. He simply blinked t-o-r-t-u-r-e as he was being interviewed by a Japanese journalist to let the U.S. military know the Vietnamese were torturing him and other prisoners.
But Denton says it was his spiritual awakening in that hellish prison that has since informed his life after the war.
Interviewed by Newsmax TV’s Ashley Martella, Denton recalled how he was sitting in his cell alone as the screams of a fellow prisoner being tortured filled the cell when he suddenly heard a calm, soothing voice.
“Well, this is going to sound kooky I guess, but I heard a voice in my cell when I was nearing despair and saying to the Lord I’m not sure I can go on comporting myself in an honorable fashion,” Denton told Martella. “I’ve just got to have some help. About five or ten seconds after I said that… the only noise I could hear was this man being tortured who was shrieking… and this clear voice came out and said, ‘Say sacred heart of Jesus, I give myself to you.”
Denton explained that he has been brought up with the phrase in a religious club he once belonged to, “so it wasn’t an entirely foreign thing for me to hear. But I knew where it was coming from, and he didn’t say thee, he said you.
“And that just broke me up. I broke down and cried and since that time I’ve learned that if you do that, turn yourself over to God and say, ‘Look, you be the origin of the stimuli for my thoughts for my actions and make it be in accordance with your will’ and it’s amazing how that will work,” Denton said. “I’m not the only one who will say that. But people who try it will be surprised at how quickly it catches on to establish that rapport.”
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Steve Pohlit, Founder