Mon, Aug 27, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Flowers, tributes offered for McCain at Hanoi crash site

Reuters, HANOI

A US citizen who gave her name only as Kristin places flowers in memory of the late US senator John McCain at the McCain Memorial in Hanoi yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

On the shores of a still and peaceful lake on the edge of downtown Hanoi, the inscription on a faded monument stands as a reminder of a violent event 51 years ago.

“On Oct. 26, 1967, at Truc Bach Lake, the military and people of Hanoi arrested Major John Sidney McCain, a pilot of the American Navy’s air force,” it says on the sculpture, which depicts an airman with his hands above his head in front of a broken plane wing.

McCain died on Saturday.

The naval aviator was flying one of 10 planes that were shot down by the North Vietnamese military on the same day, according to the inscription on the statue, which McCain himself visited on a return to Vietnam in 2009.

“I felt compelled to come out here and bring some flowers,” said Robert Gibb, an American in Hanoi, who placed a bouquet of yellow chrysanthemums at the foot of the monument after hearing the news of McCain’s death yesterday morning.

Gibb was one of several US citizens living in Hanoi to visit the monument with tributes. One man offered a folded US flag.

“He was the last guy I ever voted for president,” Gibb said. “The moment he dropped in here changed his life forever.”

McCain was dragged out of the lake and spent the next five-and-a-half years as a high-profile prisoner of war in Hoa Lo prison — the infamous “Hanoi Hilton’ — where he said he and others were tortured.

A statue marking the spot by the lake was erected in 1967, and renovated in the 1980s and 1990s.

The US embassy in Hanoi yesterday said it planned to launch a fellowship to support a “young Vietnamese leader committed to public service” to travel to the US on a study tour annually.

The program is to be named the “McCain/Kerry Fellowship” in honor of McCain and former US secretary of state John Kerry, another Vietnam War veteran who has promoted US-Vietnam issues during his political career, the embassy said in a statement.

Le Ma Luong, the former director of the Vietnam Military History Museum in Hanoi who met McCain soon after 2010, said he remembered McCain as an articulate and professional man who contributed greatly to building relations with Vietnam.

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