Former senator Jeremiah Denton dies - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Former senator Jeremiah Denton dies

President Ronald Reagan with Jeremiah Denton. (Source: National Archives) President Ronald Reagan with Jeremiah Denton. (Source: National Archives)

Former Alabama senator and Vietnam war hero Jeremiah Denton Junior passed away. The Mobile native died Friday in Virginia Beach, from what his son called a heart ailment.

Denton led a remarkable life which he spent serving others. He was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. In 1965, he led a bombing mission over North Vietnam. He was shot down and captured.    

Denton was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for 91 months, and was in solitary confinement for more than half of the time.

In 1966, a Japanese television crew interviewed Denton on a propaganda film. During that interview he blinked the letters t-o-u-t-u-r-e in Morse code. The film crew sold that footage to an American network which played it on national television, gaining him national recognition.

Denton was released in 1973 and returned to his hometown of Mobile two years later. In 1979, Alabama Republicans asked Denton to run for the U.S. Senate. He won and served as senator from 1981 to 1987.

Afterward, Denton continued to promote his conservative views for a strong national defense.

He led the National Forum Foundation, which became the Admiral Jeremiah Denton Foundation in 2004.  

Denton and his wife, Jane, moved to Williamsburg, Virginia in 2007. Jane died the following year. Friday morning, Jeremiah Denton joined her. He was 89 year old.

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