John McCain was a pilot in the Vietnam war, blah, blah, blah, prisoner, etc. He was in on some hairy shit, like the time on the Oriskany when one plane accidentally fired a missile into another one while a bunch of them were getting ready to take off. That was a party. McCain was in another one of the planes. As the fire spread, more missiles cooked off and it was like the fourth of July.
So, what do you think . . . hero?
John McCain was a ground attack pilot, he flew the A-4, a dedicated ground attack plane. Let's take a look at that.
As constant readers know, one of my heroes is Hans Rudel, the greatest ground attack pilot in history, never to be exceeded, equaled, or even approached. During a four year gig he personally destroyed over five hundred Russian tanks; way over five hundred trucks; and one battleship.
Let's hold that up to the light. Each tank had a crew of three or four, let's be conservative and say that the five hundred tanks represents one thousand dead Russians. The trucks? Each one a drive team of two; some definitely packed with soldiers. Let's say, again, conservatively, average two dead per truck. The battleship was manned and broke in half and sank very quickly, couldn't have been less than five hundred dead sailors. He shot down some bombers too. He personally, like he shot them in the head, killed at the very least two thousand, five hundred Russians. The total is certainly much higher. Besides this heroic total, he also did some heroic things, like land behind the lines to rescue downed pilots. He was shot down at least six times himself.
Point Number One: If they had captured him and tortured him, would you hold it against them?
Point Number Two: Ground attack pilots are mass murderers. They look for high value targets and they blow them up, along with anyone in the neighborhood. In Russia the civilians were mostly gone; in Vietnam they mostly lived at the high value targets.
Just flying twenty or thirty ground attack missions, while living the good life on an aircraft carrier, and finally getting shot down and made prisoner, that doesn't make you a hero. Some of it was difficult, but none of it was heroic. And then there's the murder part.