Speaking to a group in Pittsburgh earlier this week, the candidate that doesn’t want to talk about his time as a POW again told the story of how he substituted the names from a professional football team to his captors in place of those in his fighter squadron.
Asked what first comes to his mind when he thinks of Pittsburgh, McCain chuckled, “the Steelers. I was a mediocre high school athlete but I loved and adored the sports but the Steelers really made a huge impression on me particularly in my early years.”
And then McCain told a rather moving story about his time as a P.O.W. “When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the pressures, physical pressures on me, I named the starting lineup, defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers as my squadron mates.”
The problem? Every other time he told this story including in his 1999 memoir, the team wasn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Once my condition had stabilized, my interrogators resumed their work. Demands for military information were accompanied by threats to terminate my medical treatment if I did not cooperate. Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed.”