CROSSVILLE (WATE) – The longest-held enlisted prisoner of war in the Vietnam war says Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was disrespectful when he criticized Sen. John McCain’s capture in Vietnam adding “I like people who weren’t captured.”
McCain says Trump should apologize to veterans for the statement, but Trump is standing by his statements.
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Capt. Bill Robinson, then 22, became a prisoner of war on September 20, 1965, while on a rescue mission in Vietnam. He ended up being held for over 7 years and became the longest enlisted man held as a prisoner of war.
“I survived being shot at. I survived a plane crash, and I survived to walk away 7 and a half years later to entertain what we call freedom,” said Capt. Robinson.
It’s freedom of speech, or rather an opinion voiced by Donald Trump, that upset Robinson.
“Saying that he preferred non-POW versus POW. I didn’t go out that morning saying, ‘Hell I’m going to get shot down today. I think I’ll go enjoy myself for 7 and a half years,'” said Capt. Robinson.
He feels it was a disrespectful attack by Trump because POWs survive minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years in confinement.
“I was tortured. I was brutalized. I was beaten for what I believed in,” said Capt. Robinson.
Robinson says what he remembers is the belief and common bond that they would fight another day.
“Our instructions were and always will be a man’s reputation is his most prized possession,” he said.
Robinson says he’ll forgive Trump’s jab, but won’t forget it.
“When you attack the men and women in armed forces, you attack all of us who have gone into uniform,” said Capt Robinson.
According to the state, a total of 6,000 Tennessee troops were wounded in the Vietnam War and more than 1,200 Tennessee service members were killed.