Admiral Jeremiah Denton is dead at 89. Americans of a certain age will remember him, if not by name, then as the returning Vietnam POW who stepped off the plane at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines and concluded some remarks with the words, “God bless America.”

He spent more than seven years as a captive of the North Vietnamese and was able to get word back home of their brutality by blinking his eyes in morse code fashion – long and shorts – during a televised propaganda session and spelling out the word “torture.”

He later ran for the Senate and became the first Republican elected to that body from Alabama since Reconstruction. He was no more yielding as a politician than he had been as a prisoner of war and, by most accounts, this caused him to lose his race for reelection.

Phillip Rawls of the AP tell his story here. And for more, there is Denton’s book, “When Hell Was in Session.”

RIP, hero.

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