One Good Deal After Another (continued)
A Sad Look North
The one great surprise in the landing zone was the presence of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. The admiral was the Commander in Chief, Pacific and as such, commanded all American armed forces in the Pacific. Why he was in Vietnam, why he was in our landing zone and how he got there were a mystery then and remain so today.
Someone, I don’t know who, introduced me to the admiral and I briefed him on who we were, why we were there and our mission. He asked questions and we conversed for several minutes.
Throughout, he frequently turned his head to look northward. It was obvious that he was looking in the direction of his son, future U.S. Senator John S. McCain then in the Hanoi Hilton as a POW. He kept his thoughts to himself. He seemed sad. Within a few minutes, he reached out, shook my hand and said something to the effect of, “Major, you have far more important things to do than stand here talking to an admiral.”
Still on crutches from five and a half years of brutal captivity in North Vietnam, Commander John S. McCain, III, is shown with his father, recently retired Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. The senior McCain had commanded all United States forces in the Pacific theater, including those in Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Stars and Stripes.
I often thought about that little meeting. After our tragedy at LZ Margo, I suspected that he had been briefed on the incident and wondered if he remembered seeing much of BLT 2/26 on that bright, sunny afternoon only 20 or so miles south of North Vietnam.