McCain, Christian, American Flag, Pledge of Allegiance

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McCain, Christian, American Flag, Pledge of Allegiance

Postby gmg » Sat Dec 16, 2006 11:23 pm

Over the years I've heard told and received emails about Senator McCain's story about Mike Christian. Another was sent to me just a few days ago.

This time I decided to do some digging into this and I checked Senator McCain's web site and all I could find that was related was the following speech, which I suppose should be posted in its entirety.

I then did some checking on Mr. Christian himself and came up with the text you see below Mr. McCain's speech.

April 04, 2001

Congratulations to all of you for completing the Nashville D.A.R.E. program and welcome to the Washington County Military Veterans who have joined us tonight . I regret that a prior commitment prevents me from personally attending your graduation ceremony.

I applaud each of you for making the personal commitment to increasing your knowledge and awareness of the perils of using drugs. Each student from St. Ann's, Trinity St. John's and Nashville Middle School who participated in this program should be proud of themselves for completing the program and making their future a priority.

Each of you took the time and made the effort for developing the skills needed for avoiding peer pressure and the potential lure of drug use. I also want to commend the parents, family, teachers, D.A.R.E. instructors and community for providing critical support, encouragement and assistance to these young people.

We should take the time each and every day to appreciate and recognize the selfless work of our nation's teachers and police officers. They are America's heroes who too often are forgotten or ignored. America's teachers are helping our youth develop the personal, professional and emotional skills necessary for successfully defining and achieving their goals. Their impact on our children and our nation's future is immeasurable and irreplaceable, and we honor them for their dedication and service to us all.

And not only are police officers making personal sacrifices for the safety of all our citizens but many of them are taking the time to provide even more back to the community by participating in community programs such as D.A.R.E. that help our children develop and strengthen the personal skills needed for avoiding the obstacles of youth including drugs.

The use of illegal drugs in America not only devastates lives and families, but endangers the future vitality of our children and our nation. If the 'war on drugs' is to ever be won, we need the active participation of every segment of our society - not only government, but businesses, educators, the media, religious and community groups, and all concerned individuals, especially families.

Community based education and counseling play such an important role in combating and preventing substance abuse. Education enables America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco products.

In many communities the D.A.R.E. program is an innovative approach for helping young Americans develop the skills necessary for making critical decisions and solving unique and often difficult problems while navigating the path of adolescence.

An important feature of the D.A.R.E program is that it allows each community to focus on the unique needs and obstacles facing their young people thereby developing curriculum and solutions that meet their particular needs.

Certainly, each of you has recognized this and have responded to the call of battle against drugs, just as the men and woman in the audience tonight who have served our nation so bravely. I urge each of you to continue fighting to not only keep drugs out of your life but to have the personal strength necessary for helping your friends, family and community remain free from the self-inflicted miseries of drug usage.

Tonight we also honor the veterans of Washington County who so selflessly served this great nation I would like to share with you a personal story from the days when I was held prisoner alongside many other brave Americans during the Vietnam War. It has to do with a person that showed his own spirit through an act of great patriotism. I spent more than 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton. In the early years of our imprisonment, the North Vietnamese kept us either in solitary confinement or two to three to a cell.

In 1971, the North Vietnamese moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change, and a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans, led by people like Nancy and Ronald Reagan, on behalf of a few hundred POWs, 10,000 miles from home.

One of the men moved into my cell was Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't own a pair of shoes until he was thirteen years old. At seventeen, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and later earned a commission. He then became a Naval flying officer, and was shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen and deep appreciation for the opportunities this country - and our military - provide for people who want to work and want to succeed.

The uniforms we wore in prison consisted of a blue short-sleeved shirt, trousers that looked like pajama trousers and rubber sandals that were made out of automobile tires. I recommend then highly; one pair lasted my entire stay.

As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a piece of white cloth and a piece of red cloth and fashioned himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he sewed the American flag on the inside of his shirt.

Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of our cell, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know that saying the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important or meaningful part of our day now, but I can assure you that - for those men in that stark prison cell - it was indeed the most important and meaningful event of our day.

One day, the Vietnamese searched our cell and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, called for Mike Christian to come out, closed the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours.

Then they opened the door of the cell and threw him back inside. He was not in good shape. We tried to comfort and take care of him as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs in each corner of the room.

After things quieted down, I went to lie down to go to sleep. As I did, I happened to look in the corner of the room. Sitting there beneath that dim light bulb, with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. Sitting there, with his eyes almost shut from his beating, making another American flag. He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was for us to be able to pledge our allegiance to our flag and country.

Duty, Honor, Country. We must never forget those thousands of Americans who, with their courage, with their sacrifice, and with their lives, made those words live for all of us.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you this evening.

Died in fire at home September 1983

Name: Michael Durhan Christian
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 85, USS KITTY HAWK
Date of Birth: 07 October 1940
Home City of Record: Huntsville AL
Date of Loss: 24 April 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212400N 1061900E (XJ364667)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A6A
Other Personnel in Incident: Lewis I. Williams, Jr. (released POW)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 April 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK.


SYNOPSIS: The Grumman A6 Intruder is a two-man all weather, low-altitude, carrier-based attack plane, with versions adapted as aerial tanker and electronic warfare platform. The A6A primarily flew close-air-support, all-weather and night attacks on enemy troop concentrations, and night interdiction missions. Its advanced navigation and attack system, known as DIANE(Digital Integrated Attack navigation Equipment) allowed small precision targets, such as bridges, barracks and fuel depots to be located and attacked in all weather conditions, day or night. The planes were credited with some of the most difficult single-plane strikes in the war, including the destruction of the Hai Duong bridge between Hanoi and Haiphong by a single A6. Their missions were tough, but their crews among the most talented and most courageous to serve the United States.

Lt. Lewis I. Williams was a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 85 onboard the USS KITTY HAWK (CVA 63). On April 24, 1967, he launched in his A6A Intruder attack bomber with his bombardier/navigator, Lt. Michael D. Christian, on a daylight strike mission into North Veitnam.

Approximately 3 miles from the target, their port (left) wing was hit by 85mm anti-aircraft fire and was subsequently engulfed in flames. Lt. Williams reversed course and jettisoned his ordnance before both crewmen ejected. Both men were seen to land in an open field about 100 yards apart and established radio contact with airborne aircraft. The crewmen appeared uninjured and reported their condition as good. The ejection occurred in a well-defended, populated area near the city of Kep in Ha Bac Province, and capture was almost immediate.

Williams and Christian were held in various locations in Hanoi, North Vietnam before they were released in March 1973. Christian received an award for a birthday during his captivity for being "The Best Bull Shooter in the Whole World." Williams' and Christian's lives followed very diverse courses after their release.

Lt. Williams remained in the Navy and attained the rank of Captain. In 1989, his duty assignment was with the office of the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Lt. Christian was promoted during his captivity to the rank of Lt. Commander. He voluntarily retired on February 1, 1978 while at the Armed Forces Staff College. His resignation was as a protest to president-elect Jimmy Carter's amnesty plan for draft dodgers. In protest, Christian threw his medals on the grave of a veteran. He had been awarded two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, four Air Medals, the Legion of Merit, and the Navy Commendation Medal.

In September 1983, Michael D. Christian died in a fire in his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Williams and Christian were among 591 lucky Americans who were released in 1973 from Vietnam prisoner of war camps. Unfortunately, nearly 2300 are still prisoner, missing and otherwise unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. As Williams must surely be aware, thousands of reports relating to these men have been received by the U.S. Government. The thought that some of their comrades are still alive is very disturbing to most returnees. They had a code among them that none of them could honorably return home unless they all came home.
Today, many authorities who have reviewed the largely classified information relating to missing Americans in Southeast Asia have reluctantly concluded that hundreds of Americans remain alive today in captivity. It's long past time our men were home.

SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).

UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO

Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: April 24, 1967
Released: March 4, 1973

Family: Father, William D. Christian of Huntsville, Alabama My mother died during the last year of my captivity. Sister, Pat Endres of Colonie, New York. Brother, Lary Alan Christian, age 11, of Huntsville, Alabama. Wife, Charlotte Strong Christian of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Children, Deborah Kaye, age 13, Sandra Dawn, age 11, Pamela Joan, age 8.

Education: Pre High School, Schenectady, New York; Butler High School, Huntsville, Alabama; University of Alabama (1 semester); Purdue University, BSEE 1964.

Navy: Enlisted 28 January 1958-Aviation electronics technician; Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program (NESEP) a commission program; one and a half years surface Navy in the USS Dahlgren DLG-12; B/N Wings in 1966; A-6A B/N in VA-85 aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).

Interests: Music, Languages, Literature, Travel, and mainly - my family.

My pilot was Lt. Lewis Irving (Irv) Williams. We were shot down 24 April 1967 at Kep Airfield about 30 miles northeast of Hanoi.

I frequently found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I got to know the Vietnamese and their methods quite well during five major and various minor pain sessions. Their attempts at propaganda and indoctrination taught me, as it did so many, just how strongly I support the ideals and policies of my country and our system of government. I learned a great deal about myself and my fellow man. I saw Americans function under conditions of great stress and report with pride their tremendous courage and resourcefulness.

Perhaps the two strongest lessons I learned are: One, look around and find those who love you. Be aware of their love and react to it while you still can. Two, the International Communist Revolution is a deadly serious business and we MUST become aware of it. We need not panic, but we absolutely must deal with communism from a position of strength. Peace at any price politics will destroy us.
A friend of mine forwarded me the following story. I
got to live with Mike and considered him a great roommate.
Mike was an A6A pilot, POW 4-24-67 to 3-4-73. A couple of years following release, he was trapped in an apartment by a fire. The bars on the window prevented him from from making an escape. He battled to get through but lost the fight. MM (John Michael McGrath ex POW)

Our Flag- The Stars and Stripes "Mike's Flag"
(Condensed from a speech by Leo K Thorness, recipient of the
Congressional Medal of Honor. )

You've probably seen the bumper sticker somewhere along the road. It
depicts an American Flag, accompanied by the words "These colors don't run." I'm always glad to see this, because it reminds me of an
incident from my confinement in North Vietnam at the Hao Lo POW Camp,
or the "Hanoi Hilton," as it became known.

Then a Major in the U.S. Air Force, I had been captured and imprisoned from 1967-1973. Our treatment had been frequently brutal. After three years, however, the beatings and torture became less frequent. During the last year, we were allowed outside most days for a couple of minutes to bathe. We showered by drawing water from a concrete tank with a homemade bucket.

One day as we all stood by the tank, stripped of our clothes, a young
Naval pilot named Mike Christian found the remnants of a handkerchief
in a gutter that ran under the prison wall. Mike managed to sneak the grimy rag into our cell and began fashioning it into a flag. Over time we all loaned him a little soap, and he spent days cleaning the material. We helped by scrounging and stealing bits and pieces of anything he could use. At night, under his mosquito net, Mike worked on the flag. He made red and blue from ground-up roof tiles and tiny amounts of ink and painted the colors onto the cloth with watery rice glue. Using thread from his own blanket and a homemade bamboo needle, he sewed on stars.

Early in the morning a few days later, when the guards were not alert, he whispered loudly from the back of our cell, "Hey gang, look here." He proudly held up this tattered piece of cloth, waving it as if in a breeze. If you used your imagination, you could tell it was supposed to be an American flag. When he raised that smudgy fabric, we automatically stood straight and saluted, our chests puffing out, and more than a few eyes had tears.

About once a week the guards would strip us, run us outside and go through our clothing. During one of those shakedowns, they found Mike's flag. We all knew what would happen. That night they came for him. Night interrogations were always the worst. They opened the cell door and pulled Mike out. We could hear the beginning of the torture before they even had him in the torture cell. They beat him most of the night. About daylight they pushed what was left of him back through the cell door. He was badly broken; even his voice was gone.

Within two weeks, despite the danger, Mike scrounged another piece of
cloth and began another flag. The Stars and Stripes, our national symbol, was worth the sacrifice to him. Now, whenever I see the flag, I think of Mike and the morning he first waved that tattered emblem of a nation. It was then, thousands of miles from home in a lonely prison cell, that he showed us what it is to be truly free.

Freedom isn't free!

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