Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger drew a distinguished crowd of dignitaries to his 90th birthday party Monday night, but the biggest impression was made by Sen. John McCain, The Daily Beast reports
McCain, who spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in the "Hanoi Hilton," told of Kissinger's visit to the city near the famed camp where POWs were brutally treated.
McCain had steadfastly refused to be released early, though the north Vietnamese hoped to score points by doing so after learning his father was to be promoted to admiral.
"After a while, my honor, which in that situation was entirely invested in my relations and the reputation I had with my fellow POWs, became not just my most cherished possession, it was my only possession," McCain said. "I had nothing else left.
"When Henry came to Hanoi to conclude the agreement that would end America’s war in Vietnam, the Vietnamese told him they would send me home with him," McCain said. "He refused the offer. 'Commander McCain will return in the same order as the others,' he told them."
Kissinger knew McCain's early release would be seen as favoritism to his father and a violation of the code of conduct which required POWs be released in the same order in which they were taken, McCain said in his toast.
"By rejecting this last attempt to suborn a dereliction of duty, Henry saved my reputation, my honor, my life, really. And I’ve owed him a debt ever since."
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