How do you hold up under extreme circumstances?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Like many Americans my age, my father served in the Vietnam war. Although I was young at the time, I remember watching the evening news reports and hearing about the prisoners of war. This afternoon, needing a break from work and studies, I decided to surf the web for a bit. I ended up at WikiPedia looking over the pages for both presidential candidates and following the links for each. (I think we need to learn about the events that influenced the men that we are considering as the next president.) I found many interesting links for both presidential candidates.  After reading about Obama, I read the McCain page. There was a link with details about McCain's 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. I clicked on one of the WikiPedia links and ended up finding a first-person account of that experience as published in the May 14, 1973, issue of U.S.News & World Report. It's not a short read, but it provides a very detailed  perspective of one man's experience. John McCain, Prisoner of War: A First-Person Account

I cannot begin to imagine what this experience was like, yet this article provided a glimpse of what many men endured, some fatally, in service to our country.

I'd like to think of myself as someone who would do equally well but these are the harder areas of resolve - areas that we will never know how we will do until we are tested.

I remember the time I asked my grandfather what it was like when he stormed the beach at Normandy. He told me, "it was hell." No doubt, that experience shaped him, too.

Discussion/Comments (4):

How do you hold up under extreme circumstances?

Senator McCain's ordeal as a pow was extremely bad stuff. He's an American Hero, and I admire his patriotism and service to our country.

Colonel David Hunt was on the radio a couple of weeks ago and he described some of the stuff that McCain the other pow's went through. The solitary confinement McCain was in for a long time was supposedly in a room not much bigger than a coffin! Some of these accounts are in his book: Faith of My Fathers { Link }

Just like you Eric, the military and war has long been a part of my extended family as well. I thank your Grandfather for his service, and thank you for sharing that.

my Dad, a Vet, served a tour of duty aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64) { Link } ) in the 60's. Some nights when we get together he'll go on for hours about how it was, the people he served with, and travels around the world. Fascinating stuff.

His brother was in the US Army, out of Fort Bragg, served 2 tours of duty back-to-back as a foot soldier in Vietnam. I just can't imagine.

Dad would occasionally get called up to comm to have a 2-way radio chat with his brother in between skirmishes and even got to do a ship-to-shore to visit with his brother for a couple of hours on the mainland.

My Mom's uncle was in WWII, Canadian Army, part of the Allied invasion of Sicily if I remember correctly, a paratrooper. Critically wounded in battle by gunshots, lying in a ditch, most everyone around him dead, he lay there motionless while the nazi troops marched by, the rear guards using their bayonets to make sure that all were dead, uncle Bill was stabbed multiple times in the abdomen, he didn't flinch. He survived though, one very tough sonofagun, He spent several long years in an Italian hospital before he could return home to Canada.

Also another uncle of mine is a Korean war vet, US Marines.

One of my cousins served many years over on the DMZ in South Korea and is a Gulf War Vet and also operated a patriot missle battery out of Israel.

Freedom isn't Free. Thanks to all that serve.

Posted at 10/23/2008 6:44:56 PM by Paul Gagnon

re: How do you hold up under extreme circumstances?

Thanks for sharing, Paul.

Posted at 10/24/2008 4:36:49 PM by Eric Mack

How do you hold up under extreme circumstances?

A very interesting article.

You point out that Senator McCain belong to the same generation than your father and I see upon checking this up that he was born in 1936. Would I be correct in assuming that he would be one of the oldest American president ever if he was elected?

Posted at 10/27/2008 6:37:38 AM by Pascal Venier

re: How do you hold up under extreme circumstances?

That's quite possible, Pascal.

Posted at 10/27/2008 8:06:39 AM by Eric Mack

Discussion for this entry is now closed.