Honoring an American hero: Jeremiah Denton

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)-Members of Jeremiah Denton’s family shared special memories of the American war hero Tuesday morning.

A celebration of the late senator’s life was held on what would have been his 90th birthday.


The eulogy at the service was given by members of Jeremiah Denton’s family.

His son, Michael, said he asked his father, shortly before he died, what had kept him going through 7 and a half years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“He said, ‘Sister Josephine.’ “

Sister Josephine was one of Jeremiah Denton’s teachers at St. Mary’s School in Mobile.

Michael said his father told him Sister Josephine once caught him leading a group of students in playing hooky.

But, she didn’t punish him.

Michael Denton said, “Instead, she chose to encourage him, and said, ‘Now, Jerry, you obviously are a leader. You couldn’t have done something so outrageous as to lead the entire class to play hooky. You’re obviously a leader: its your choice what to do with that leadership.”


Denton’s brother, Leo, said his faith kept Admiral Denton alive during his captivity.

Leo talked about a conservation they had a month after Denton returned from being held prisoner.

Leo Denton said, “He (Jeremiah) got so serious, and he said, ‘Leo, pray for me, pray for me.’ And, it touched me so much, it really affected my whole life.”


One of Denton’s daughters, Mary, was a year and a half old when her father’s plane was shot down, and, essentially, just met him when he returned home.

Now Mary Denton Hutton, she said, “I was very proud of him, you know. I was very proud and worried like the rest of my family, and happy when he returned. “

Michael Denton said he, too, remembered the first moments after his father got off the plane, back home and finally safe.

Michael said, “He got the whole family into the room, got everybody else out of the room, closed the door, and he had an apology for each one of us. Something that had weighed on him over the years. Its obviously had quite an impact on us.”


Admiral Denton’s funeral will be held next Tuesday.

It will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.


A memorial service will be held for former Alabama Senator Jeremiah Denton. The service will be held Tuesday, July 15 at 10 a.m. at Battleship Memorial Park.

This would have been the former prisoner of war’s 90th birthday: that’s why organizers are calling the service a celebration of the life of Denton, who passed away in March.

The Mobile native was a POW for seven and a half years in Vietnam. He became famous for covertly blinking the word “torture” in morse code during a propaganda film.

Denton was released in 1973.

He retired from the military as a rear admiral and went on to become a U.S. Senator.

Senator Denton was buried earlier this year at Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

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