Growing Bolder, a Legendary Aviator Speaks On Camera for the First Time About Being a Prisoner of War with John McCain

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Presidential candidate John McCain was brutalized for years in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. Legendary aviator Joe Kittinger was in the cell next to McCain and for 11 months they whispered through the walls. For the first time ever, Kittinger speaks on camera about the man he met in a place called "hell on earth."

In 1972, highly decorated combat pilot and legendary aviator Joe Kittinger was shot down over North Vietnam and taken prisoner by the Viet Cong. Kittinger was taken to the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison camp and isolated in a solitary cell.

The man in the cell next to him had been brutalized and tortured almost daily for nearly five years. For the next 11 months, Kittinger and the man spoke quietly through the walls, forging a friendship inside a place described as "hell on earth." That man was John McCain.

For the first time in 35 years, Kittinger speaks on video tape about POW John McCain. Because McCain's father was a top U.S. military official, the North Vietnamese offered McCain early release for propaganda purposes, but he refused unless everyone captured before him was also released. "It is hard to believe," Kittinger says, "that a man would give up being imprisoned under very difficult conditions but honor is something that's vital to a man's integrity and character, and John McCain's got character."

Kittinger reveals details of their imprisonment and explains how being a POW shaped McCain's character and would define his presidency. You can view this exclusive video story at


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Katy Widrick
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