Retired Rear Adm. and Sen. Jeremiah Denton, a POW during the Vietnam War and author of “When Hell Was in Session,” recalls the shock of returning to America in an interview featured in the April 2010 issue of Vietnam Magazine, a bi-monthly history publication.
“You can imagine if you were out of the country from 1965-1973 you would notice some changes in the culture. I was shocked by it,” Denton said.
“When I was released, my wife picked me up in Norfolk,” Denton said. “As we drove home from the airport, I saw these massage parlors and X-rated movie theatres.
“When I saw Woodstock, I threw up,” he said.
In the interview, he talks about his recently updated and re-released book that tells of his seven years in captivity at the hands of the North Vietnamese and his subsequent return to a changed United States.
He discusses living in a POW camp where he spent several years in solitary confinement, then tells of his return to the United States where he was shocked not just by the social atmosphere, but by the lack of patriotism and moral decline in the people he had given so much to protect.
Denton is perhaps most famous for blinking “torture” in Morse Code with his eyes during a video interview with a foreign reporter, communicating to U.S. intelligence the plight of POWs in Hanoi.
Denton later was elected to serve as U.S. senator from Alabama in the early 1980s during the Reagan administration.
“When Hell Was in Session” was first released in 1976 after Denton’s return from Vietnam. The book was re-released in 2009 – updated with Denton’s recollections of what happened upon his return to America, his election to the U.S. Senate and the role he played with Ronald Reagan in ending the Cold War.
During the Vietnam War, Denton served as commanding officer to Attack Squadron 75 aboard the USS Independence. He was shot down on July 18, 1965, while leading an air strike against North Vietnamese stronghold, Thanh Hoa.
During his years in the POW camp, Denton refused to betray his country, at his own expense.