Jeremiah Denton, American war hero and former US senator, dies at 89

Jeremiah Denton died Friday, March 28, 2014 at the age of 89.

Former Alabama Senator Jeremiah Denton, who survived almost eight years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam has died of complications from a heart ailment.{}He was 89 years old.

Denton, a native of Mobile, was the first prisoner to alert the U.S. military that American soldiers were being tortured. In 1966, he was forced to participate in a news conference by the North Vietnamese.{}During the entire interview, he continually blinked the letters{}T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code.

Denton returned home to Alabama and ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He beat Democrat Jim Folsom, Jr and became the first Republican since Reconstruction to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Denton was a strong advocate of conservative causes and backed the Reagan administration. He lost his bid for a second term in 1986 to then Seventh District Congressman Richard Shelby. Shelby was a Democrat at the time; he became a Republican in 1994.

Senator Shelby issued the following statement on the passing of Jeremiah Denton:

{}"Admiral Denton will be long remembered for his service to America. He was a war hero, an honorable senator, and a family man who cared deeply about his country. I send my deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time."