McCain praises Vietnamese military commander

McCain was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and remained a prisoner of war for 5 1/2 years, during which he was repeatedly tortured. He met with Giap right after his first election to the U.S. Congress in 1984 during a trip to Hanoi for a PBS special organized by Walter Cronkite. At the end of their encounter, Giap told McCain that the Americans had been an “honorable” opponent.

“Coming from him,” McCain would later say, “that meant something.”

McCain would later offer crucial support for then-President Clinton's effort to normalize relations with Vietnam in 1995. 

Giap defeated the French in 1954 in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, becoming a hero to the anti-colonialist movement across Asia and Africa. He also served as commander in chief of the People’s Army of Vietnam throughout the war against the United States, which ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975.

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