Friday, March 28, 2014

Admiral Denton Dies

Admiral Denton, one of the first naval aviators to be shot down during the Vietnam War, passed away.

Denton blinking "Torture" in Morse code
This makes me a little sad, actually. Admiral Denton's name was one I knew growing up since my dad was in the Navy for virtually all of my childhood. I had a deep interest in the military, specifically naval aviation and the law, thanks to my dad's career as a JAG officer and the television show JAG. 

I am always impressed by the stories of prisoners of war, especially those from the Vietnam era since the war dragged on for so long and the men were subjected to horrendous torture, at a time when the country, the world, and even the Catholic Church were going through deep changes and profound turmoil. (Interesting then that my advisor here at at school, Dr. Robert Doyle, is one of the country's expert historians on POWs.)

And it's incredible that Denton had seven kids and his wife back home when he was in the Hanoi Hilton. That screams of another time, another place. Sacrifice is an action virtually unknown to my generation.

Fr. Capodanno as a missionary in Taiwan, in the late 1950s or so
The number of prominent Catholics who served their country well in 'Nam is incredible, especially considering the turmoil of the decade. Lieutenant General Hal Moore, of We Were Soliders fame, is another example. There's even a scene in that movie of Moore, played by Mel Gibson, praying in the post chapel. The altar is still "against the wall," since it was in the last few years before versus populum worship became the usual practice. And let us not forget Servant of God Vincent Capodanno, the "grunt Padre" who served as a chaplain to Marine Corps units in Vietnam until he was killed in action.

I have no doubt in my mind that it is because of their Catholic faith that these men made it through the war and transitioned into life at home. And of course it was because of faith that the priests who served as chaplains went and died, as is the case of Fr. Capodanno.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. 

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