The most famous Morse Code communication in history – and the bravest. Wall Street Journal, Mar. 31, Pg. A12 | Editorial
Jeremiah Denton never blinked.
He did not blink while leading bombing runs over North Vietnam as commander of a squadron of A-6 Intruders. He did not blink after he was shot down and taken prisoner on July 18, 1965, three days after his 41st birthday.
And he did not blink when, 10 months later, he was hauled before a Japanese film crew to deliver what Hanoi expected would be a propaganda statement denouncing the American war effort and praising his captors for humane treatment. “Whatever the position of my government, I believe in it, yes, sir,” he said. “I am a member of that government, and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live.”
All the while, he used his eyelids to bat out the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse Code. It was the first confirmation of the true nature of the treatment being meted to American POWs. Thanks to YouTube, you can watch the tape of Denton’s eyelid Morse communication, in what was an astonishing act of bravery and fidelity to duty. His captors soon realized what he had done, and he was beaten and tortured some more. Of his nearly eight years in captivity, four were spent in solitary, often in boxes the size of a coffin.
The North’s torturers never broke him. With James Stockdale and other senior officers, Denton inspired his fellow prisoners to resist, to say no, to maintain their honor amid the relentless and violent efforts to degrade it.
Freed at last in 1973 after the Paris Peace Accord, Denton, who would go on to become an admiral and a Senator, delivered a brief speech: “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.” We’ve no doubt God is blessing Jeremiah Denton.
“Denton, who would survive 7 1/2 years confined in a tiny, stinking, windowless cell at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” and other camps before his release in 1973, died of heart problems Friday in Virginia Beach, Va., at age 89.” [cbsnews.com]