There's something fishy about J Sidney McCain's refusal to be repatriated when he was a POW in Vietnam. If the Vietnamese wanted him repatriated for propaganda purposes, they could have just released him whether McCain wanted to be released or not. What was McCain going to do? Break back into prison? Get himself recaptured? It would sure look like he had gotten preferential treatment, and denials by McCain would likely have been disbelieved. Propaganda points scored! Booyah!
Besides, how much propaganda value are we really talking about here? To release a trained pilot to bomb you some more for the sake of some questionable PR seems pretty dumb to me.
Maybe it's different for Navy guys, but I always understood that it was my duty to escape from the enemy if the opportunity arose. What better opportunity than an offer of repatriation? The prison doors wide open, and all you have to do is walk out. McCain could have gotten medical care and rehabilitation and could have been back in his aircraft bombing people in no time if he had not "refused" to be let go.
I'm wondering if this offer of repatriation was even serious or really happened if McCain was allowed to refuse it. I can see if strings were attached and you refused the conditions. You're not supposed to give your parole, for example. But that's not the way the legend has developed.
And I don't believe that McCain turned down an offer to be promoted to Rear Admiral, apparently skipping Coomodore altogether. Is this even documented? You don't get made Rear Admiral when you are passed over for command as McCain had apparently been. Aviation is not a good career path if you're looking to become a general grade officer.
I'd like to see McCain's complete service record.