John McCain remembered in Vietnam as a friend, not an enemy

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Hanoi, Vietnam (CNN)The very first time Le Tran Lua laid eyes on John McCain, he wished to eliminate him.

Now, over half a century after that remarkable very first and only encounter with a United States Navy pilot, Lua regrets Sen. McCain’s death.
“I am extremely unfortunate,” Lua states of his previous opponent’s death. “I constantly wished to fulfill him [once again] because this was such a turning point in my life.”

Lua is a rail-thin Vietnamese grandpa with a gray ponytail who earns a living painting calligraphy beside Buddhist temples.

The 68-year-old sips sweet coffee in a Hanoi coffee shop as he remembers the afternoon when he initially found McCain’s parachute.
It was October 26, 1967. Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, a United States Navy pilot, was piloting a battle objective targeting a power plant when a surface-to-air rocket struck his Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. He ejected from the stricken aircraft, deep inside opponent area.
That day, Lua, then 17, was a mechanic at a paper factory. When he captured a look of McCain’s parachute, he states he was concealing in an air-raid shelter.

    McCain crashed in Truc Bach Lake, in the heart of Hanoi.
    Lua states he dove in and swam directly towards the downed pilot.
    “I got his hair instantly,” Lua states. “I did not speak English, so I screamed out in French ‘haut le mains!'”
    In other words, “Hands up!”
    For Lua, the capture of an opponent pilot was among the proudest accomplishments of his life. For McCain, it was the start of an experience as detainee of war that lasted more than 5 years.

    Flowers for an opponent

    A little monolith beside Truc Bach Lake commemorates the downing of McCain’s airplane. “The residents and military captured Pilot John Sidney McCain,” the statue’s inscription states. “This was among 10 airplane shot down that exact same day.”

      Nowadays, Hoa Lo Prison is a state museum, often visited by crowds of young travelers worn shoes and shorts.

      During his time in captivity here, McCain and other detainees of war stated, they were consistently beaten, left in singular confinement, required to sign confessions and rejected medical treatment for major injuries and injuries.
      “I feared rope abuse more than the majority of other types of abuse,” McCain composed in his 2005 narrative “Character is Destiny.”

      “Thank you quite Senator John McCain,” Son composes in the acknowledgement book. “Please assist and continue supporting United States and Vietnam– more powerful and better.”

      That message was echoed by Pham Quang Vinh, Vietnam’s deputy foreign minister and previous ambassador to Washington.
      “I pertained to reveal the inmost regard for Sen. John McCain– an excellent male, terrific statesman and a fantastic pal of Vietnam,” Vinh informed CNN.
      In 1995, McCain praised the Clinton administration’s choice to bring back diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
      Kritenbrik argues that as a soldier then a peacemaker, McCain played a main function in establishing the extremely close ties now taken pleasure in by 2 previous opponent states. “It’s close to incredible to see how far we’ve come by the last couple of years,” the ambassador states.
      “To go from the experiences of the experiences and the war of Sen. McCain and exactly what we had here at first, to now be here today where we’re discussing a collaboration and a relationship.”
      McCain’s enduring mark on Vietnam can be seen on the walls of the jail where he when suffered. Not far from photos of him as an injured POW, there is a picture of a smiling McCain on a trip of the museum in 2000.
      The senator typically dropped in to the “Hanoi Hilton” throughout more than 20 journeys to Vietnam. On among those gos to, the previous detainee left a brief message in the museum’s visitor book. It checks out:
      Best desires, John McCain
      United States Senator Arizona

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