(Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Scotty Morgan became the fifth American pilot to be shot down in the Vietnam War when his RF-101 VooDoo was hit on a reconnaissance flight over North Vietnam on April 3, 1965. Then a Captain, he spent seven years and 10 months in captivity. He was repatriated with other long-term prisoners on Feb. 12, 1973, on the first flight out of North Vietnam. During his time in captivity he shared a cell with Navy Lt. Commander John McCain, who is now the leading Republican Presidential candidate. Morgan, a life-long Republican and former Chairman of the 11th Congressional District Committee, speaks out exclusively to The Tribune on his feelings and thoughts about McCain. Morgan lives just outside Asheville, NC)
“I was in with John for three to six months, I’m not sure, you know how it goes. John was basically no different from any other POW. He walked with a limp so you could tell he’d been injured, but a lot of guys had. That was no big deal. He was just like everyone else.”
McCain came into the prison system on Oct. 26, 1967. He was shot down by North Vietnamese gunners on his 23rd bombing raid over North Vietnam. He landed in a lake in the middle of Hanoi, suffering multiple injuries including a broken leg. He received no immediate medical treatment and was taken to the Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton) prison, apparently to die. After a few days he was moved to the Ministry of Defense Hospital No. 108 in Hanoi where his injuries were treated.
At some point, the North Vietnamese discovered their new prisoner was the “crown prince” of American POW’s because his father was a four-star Navy Admiral.
Shortly after his son’s capture, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., was appointed Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command (CINCPAC). Admiral McCain did nothing special for his son, other than make the usual fatherly inquiries to learn what had happened to him.
The communists, however, seized the opportunity to publish photos of the Admiral’s son and attempted to use him as a bargaining chip with the U.S. government.
“The first prisoner release was on the 12th of February, 1973. McCain came out in March. They released the sick and the wounded first, followed by prisoners in the order of their date of capture. Morgan says McCain was released with the rest of the guys shot down about the same time.
“The story out there is that McCain was offered a release and turned it down. I don’t know if that’s true or not. It probably is true. There were a couple of guys who were offered releases and turned them down. There were six or eight people who sold their souls. They made tapes praising the NVA and they sent them on home. John came back with his time group, and as far as I know, everything I’ve heard from other POW’s, John McCain served honorably. John McCain did absolutely nothing wrong when he was in prison.
“My heartburn with John McCain starts with the time he served in the House. Later, as a Senator, he was a member of the Keating Five. I remember seeing pictures of him lounging on the beach with John Keating.”
McCain was one of five U.S. Senators who attempted to influence the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation not to intervene and shut down the Lincoln Savings and Loan of Irvine, CA. In 1984, American Continental Corporation, owned by Charles Keating, bought Lincoln Savings. In 1989, Alan Greenspan and others, including McCain, wrote the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco in an effort to have Lincoln National exempted from the rules regarding risky investments. Later that year, American Continental and its subsidiary, Lincoln National, went bankrupt, costing more that 21,000 investors, largely senior citizens, their life savings. Keating was sent to prison for fraud. Senators Alan Cranston, Don Riegle and Dennis DeConcini saw their political careers ended due to their involvement with Keating. McCain and Senator John Glenn were rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for their efforts to intervene on Keating’s behalf with federal regulators.
Morgan isn’t finished.
“Then there was McCain-Feingold, which trampled on the First Amendment, and McCain-Kennedy that offered amnesty to illegals. Also there was McCain-Lieberman, which would put a gas tax on the public and cost the public money. My disagreements with John are political, not personal, not related to his conduct as a POW. That was honorable. I don’t know what happened to him since then.”
Morgan was outraged at a Senate hearing he saw when McCain was chairing hearings into the Federal Communications Commission. “I remember he was interviewing the chairman of Clear Channel, and they had refused to air something. John, in his very sarcastic way, said, “my friend, what do you not understand about censorship?”
My first thought was that I would have liked to be sitting there, because I would have told him that censorship means the federal government. Not private individuals or industry. They probably didn’t teach him how to read at the Naval Academy because he has trouble understanding the Bill of Rights. I’ve heard him talk about closing the so-called loopholes in gun control laws at gun shows. Anybody who doesn’t support the Second Amendment will never get my vote.
“Remember, when Republicans had a majority in the Senate, McCain was a member of the Gang of 14. If they had not blocked the President and fellow Republican Senators, the Senate filibuster rule could have been voted down and a lot of good legislation and good judicial appointees would have been approved.”
We asked Morgan, “What would you do , what is your plan in November, if McCain and Obama are the nominees?”
“I will never again hold my nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. Anybody who tells me you vote for McCain to keep Hillary or Obama from being elected, well, that’s wrong. I will not vote for John McCain. I just will not vote in the Presidential election. I love Mike Huckabee, but even if he were selected the vice presidential nominee, I still wouldn’t vote for that ticket.
“Why should I vote for McCain? You’ve got Hillary Clinton, a left wing liberal, who is more of a centrist than Obama. She’s going to do the same things she tried to do before. What’s John McCain going to do? Is he going to put his finger in the air and see which way the wind is blowing?
“The reason Democrats control the House and Senate now is that we held our noses and voted for candidates who weren’t real conservatives. They got to Washington and spent money like liberal Democrats. In 1994 we took everything. We even sent Larry Linney down to Raleigh. If we elect Obama or Clinton, two years would be about all this country could take of them. We’d probably get a Republican Congress.
“I look around locally and see all of these well-known ministers who care more about the collection plate on Sunday morning than they do about what’s right or wrong. They preach about abortion and stay registered as Democrats. I think they’re two faced. They suck up to whoever’s in charge.”
The war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against Islamo-fascism, is the central issue we face, Morgan says.
“Clinton and Obama both have said they will bring the troops home. If they do, people had better start wearing bullet proof vests where ever they go here in the States. The Islamists will take as a sign of weakness. It will be like the Tet offensive, where we kicked their butts but the media reported it as a defeat.
“We did the right thing. The invasion of Iraq was a pre-emptive strike, and we should thank God we had George W. Bush in the White House after the 2001 attacks.
Morgan thinks the liberal spending ways our Representatives and Senators adopted in Washington are the heart of the party’s problems.
“I think people are disappointed in the Republican Party. That is why we didn’t get decent candidates. They ran Romney. Can somebody sit back there and tell me Romney is a conservative? Bull Crap. The man would say or do anything to get elected. He was the Governor of Massachusetts, for Pete’s sake.
“Here’s the solution. Somebody runs for office, either party. They swear on an oath that they’re going to do certain things, conservative things. If they don’t, put them in jail for perjury. Take a court-ordered deposition and swear that you’ll do whatever you promised in the campaign.”
“Some say it might be good to have one of those Democrats elected. Maybe it’s time to flush out the system.
In discussing his fitness to lead the nation as President, McCain often refers to having been the commander of the Navy’s largest fighter squadron. As a former squadron commander himself, Morgan isn’t impressed.
“John McCain’s highest level of responsibility was squadron commander. His highest level job was lobbying in the legislative liaison office for the Navy. He got to know Barry Goldwater and set himself up to run for office.
“Mike Hucakabee is what this nation needs. He communicates better than anyone since Ronald Reagan. He has a good record as the Governor of Arkansas. He is a conservative, he understands what’s needed. He fits in at a conversation around a dinner table. I brought him up here in 1992 when he had just been elected Lt. Governor of Arkansas. He wants to do away with the IRS. He has solutions for our problems.
“I get tired of the media and people bad-mouthing him because he’s a minister. He’s not jamming religion down anyone’s throat. He’s not running to be a minister. He’s running to be President. I really believe he’s got what it takes to straighten this country out.”
|The infamous "Hanoi Hilton" in an aerial photo taken after the war. The North Vietnamese Ministry of Justice is at the top of the photo, across the street from the prison.|
|John McCain relaxes during an interview in 1973, after his return from Vietnam|
|The RF-101 VooDoo jet fighter. First flown in 1954, it was the second fighter in the Century Series of U.S. Air Force supersonic aircraft. Built by McDonell Aircraft, 885 F-101's were delivered.|
|Lt. Commander John S. McCain was shot down on his 23rd combat launch from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany in October, 1967, flying an A-4D Skyhawk.|