Former POW stumps for McCain locally

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PROCTORVILLE — Turning a dab of medicine into ink and bits of tissue into writing paper, the two wounded pilots reached out to each other trapped in their prison huts, sweltering in the tropical heat.

They talked to each other that way for five years, long before they ever met face to face. But through those makeshift ways to communicate, they understood the other’s pain, fear and determination.

That’s what it meant to be a prisoner of war under the North Vietnamese and Col. Tom Moe and Sen. John McCain lived it daily for almost half a decade.

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It’s a story Moe shared with a handful of Republicans, mainly county office-seekers, at a campaign stop at the VFW Post 6878 in Proctorville Monday morning

After their release in 1973, the two pilots kept up with each other sporadically, mainly at POW reunions. Then in 2004, McCain reached out to Moe again. This time the Arizona senator asked Moe if he would get on board as McCain attempted to seize the presidential nomination.

As in 2004, Moe is once more hitting the campaign trail for his friend, with whom he admits he doesn’t always see eye-to-eye.

“I didn’t agree with him on all his policies,” Moe told the audience. “We had some pretty heated discussion.”

But differences aside, Moe says he sees McCain on the national stage because, as he reiterated a basic theme of the McCain campaign, the Republican nominee puts his country first.

“He stood up for America, always stood up for a cause greater than himself,” Moe said.

In a jab at the Democratic candidate, Moe commended McCain for suspending his campaign during the economic upheaval hitting Wall Street and the banking industry.

“The nation is calling, Mr. Obama, and John McCain is picking up the phone,” Moe said.

In response, the Ohio Obama campaign made this comment.

“While the McCain campaign is busy launching partisan attacks today, Barack Obama is speaking to Congressional leaders and administration officials to offer specific proposals for a bipartisan rescue effort for our economy. If McCain would like to join that call, he is welcome,” Olivia Alair, Obama spokesperson, said.

Taking another jab, this time at the media, Moe told the group:

“John McCain is not a real pretty guy,” he said. “Pretty these days is awfully important to the media. But how important is it to look at things superficially. Look at service and character.”