Biden remembers a ‘good friend’ John McCain at Hanoi monument marking where his aircraft was gunned down.

President Biden Pays Tribute to John McCain in Hanoi

President Joe Biden paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Senator John McCain during his visit to Hanoi, Vietnam, where he commemorated the site where McCain’s plane was shot down, leading to his five and a half years as a prisoner of war. This poignant moment occurred as part of Biden’s official visit to Vietnam, accompanied by former Secretary of State John Kerry, who, like Biden, served alongside McCain in the Senate and played a significant role in the U.S. anti-war movement.

Honoring a Friend and War Hero

During the visit to the monument, President Biden expressed his deep sense of loss, stating, “I miss him. He was a good friend.” When questioned by a reporter about the significance of this stop on his official visit, Biden emphasized how important it was to him personally. A wreath adorned with red, white, and blue flowers had been placed in front of the statue, and Biden paid his respects by touching the wreath and bowing his head. He also engaged with Navy and Marine officers present, offering them challenge coins as a sign of appreciation.

A History of Vietnam War Artifacts Exchange

Additionally, during his visit, President Biden witnessed the exchange of war artifacts at the National Assembly Building in Hanoi. U.S. veterans Matt Keenan and Chuck Searcy returned a diary, recovered by U.S. forces in 1967, to its original author, Nguyễn Văn Thiệ. Vice Minister of National Defense Senior Lieutenant General Hoàng Xuân Chiến presented Secretary of State Antony Blinken with artifacts related to U.S. service members still missing in action from the Vietnam War. The artifacts, already verified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, will be returned to the families of the fallen soldiers in the U.S. Blinken, in turn, provided the Vietnamese with a report from Harvard University containing information about 576 Vietnamese soldiers.

Biden’s Reflections on McCain’s Ordeal

McCain’s harrowing ordeal during his five and a half years as a prisoner in North Vietnam left an indelible mark on his life. Biden and McCain crossed paths in the 1970s when Biden served as a military aide to the then-young Delaware senator. McCain’s plane was shot down in 1967, and the subsequent crash resulted in severe injuries, including broken limbs. He endured brutal treatment, including being kicked, spit on, bayoneted, and deprived of medical care. McCain’s refusal to cooperate with his captors, despite enduring extreme suffering, demonstrated his unwavering resilience.

Political Connections and Endorsements

Although Biden and McCain belonged to different political parties, their friendship and collaboration continued throughout the years. McCain even played a pivotal role in encouraging Biden to pursue a political career. In 2008, both were presidential candidates, with McCain leading the Republican ticket and Biden serving as the vice-presidential nominee alongside Barack Obama. Biden eventually secured the presidency in 2020 with the endorsement of Cindy McCain, John McCain’s widow. Cindy McCain, deeply disturbed by former President Donald Trump’s comments about her late husband, played a significant role in Biden’s victory, helping him carry the state of Arizona.

A Complex Relationship and Public Opinions

While both Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter and a Republican like her father, and Cindy McCain have expressed support for Biden at times, Meghan McCain has subsequently voiced disappointment in his performance as president. She has described the transformation of the man she once considered a friend and confidant into what she perceives as a feckless and unreliable leader. This complex relationship between the McCains and President Biden reflects the intricate dynamics of American politics and personal connections that extend beyond party lines.

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