About This Episode
On July 18, 1965, U.S. Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton's 28-plane mission over the city of Thanh Hoa in North Vietnam was hit by anti-aircraft fire. For the next eight years, he would battle the North Vietnamese as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton. As the senior American officer at the prison, Denton was forced to participate in a press conference and told he must say the POWs were being treated well. Looking weak and beaten from the severe punishment, he took advantage of the opportunity to send a secret message home, blinking out the letters T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code.
Through family, friends, and fellow POWs, Jeremiah tells the story of this American hero who led the way for prisoners in Hanoi and returned from Vietnam to become a U.S. Senator from Alabama. The documentary also tells the story of what was happening back home to Denton's wife, Jane, and their seven children, who wondered if he would ever return as they faced the turbulent social changes of the 1960's. Jane, who managed to overcome her grief at her husband's imprisonment by becoming an activist, helped to start the POW/MIA Movement which was partially responsible for the Vietnamese ending their program of torture.