Jan 04 2019
Mississippi-Built Ship Will Honor Navy Veteran, Vietnam POW, and U.S. Senator
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, today announced that Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has named a future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer for the late U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton. Ingalls Shipbuilding, located in Pascagoula, will build the ship. Denton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a Naval Aviator in Vietnam, where he was later taken as a prisoner of war.
“The naming of a future destroyer for Jeremiah Denton is a fitting tribute to his distinguished military and civilian career of public service to the nation,” said Wicker. “As a prisoner of war in Vietnam, then-Commander Denton refused to reveal information which would have compromised the safety of other Americans, even as he endured torture and unimaginable conditions. He also revolutionized naval strategy by developing the ‘Haystack Concept’ to conceal aircraft carriers from radar. I was glad to join Senator Richard Shelby and former Congressman Sam Johnson in this effort to honor Senator Denton. Mississippi’s shipbuilders have the experience and talent to build this ship representing the legacy of a great American.”
Denton was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1924. After graduating from the Naval Academy, he was deployed as a Naval Aviator in 1965. He was shot down and taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese in 1965.
He gained widespread attention during his time in captivity for blinking his eyes in Morse code to spell “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” during an interview. The message was the first confirmation American prisoners were being subjected to torture by the North Vietnamese. Despite his mistreatment and abuse, he never revealed military information to his captors. He was released and returned to the United States in 1973. Denton was later awarded the Navy Cross for heroism while a prisoner of war.
Denton retired from the Navy in 1977 with the rank of Rear Admiral. He was elected to one term in the U.S. Senate from Alabama in 1980. He passed away in 2014.