John McCain returned from Vietnam determined to lead





THE POST-POW YEARS: FIRST OF TWO PARTS -- When John McCain limped home from a Hanoi prison camp in 1973 with a badly injured knee that he could not bend, Navy doctors gave him the bad news: His 15-year career as a jet pilot was over. He would never fly again.

But McCain surprised his doctors by making a dramatic comeback. With a ferocious determination to fly again and a tough physical therapy regimen, he got his wings back and not long after was awarded command of the Navy's largest aviation squadron, VA-174, at Cecil Field in Florida. Blue-chip connections in the Nixon administration helped.

These days, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is asked about his qualifications to lead and manage, he points to his command of that squadron as proof he has the right stuff to be president.

"I led the largest squadron in the United States Navy, not for profit, but for patriotism," McCain said at a candidate forum in New Hampshire. "I'm proud of that record of leadership."


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