- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2015

Capt. Charlie Plumb, a fellow prisoner of war with Sen. John McCain of Arizona in Vietnam, said he was “amused” when he heard Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Mr. McCain and prisoners of war and says his fellow POWs don’t need an apology from someone like Mr. Trump who’s never served in the military.

“I’ve got to be honest with you — I was amused,” Capt. Plumb said Monday when asked about Mr. Trump’s remarks on CNN’s “New Day.” “To begin with, John or any one of the 591 guys we were with would never call themselves a hero — John McCain has never referred to himself as a hero. He doesn’t feel he was a hero.”

Over the weekend in Iowa, Mr. Trump had said Mr. McCain is a war hero because “he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

Mr. Trump later told reporters that if someone is a prisoner he considers them a war hero — other than Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was charged earlier this year with desertion — but that “we have a lot war heroes that weren’t prisoners also. And we should give them some credit.”

Capt. Plumb said Monday that “it’s a bit of a non-issue of calling a person a hero.”

“We were over there in uniform fighting for our way of life,” he said. “We were dedicated to the mission and in some small way, we were in uniform to protect Donald Trump’s right to free speech.

“And not only that, it kind of occurs to me that I thought about this just immediately when I heard Trump’s remarks, that if it hadn’t been for men and women in uniform, if we’d all gotten deferments, you know, in college, there’d be no opportunity to be a billionaire in the United States,” Capt. Plumb said.

He also said he and his fellow POWs don’t need an apology from Mr. Trump: “We know who we are. We’re very well-adjusted people, and we understand that, first of all, it’s just political rhetoric for the most part — it’s just stirring the pot.”

“So I don’t need an apology,” Capt. Plumb said.

“It certainly somehow degrades military people and people in uniform. On the other hand, you have to consider the source. You know, Trump has never served in the military. … We used to call them ‘draft dodgers,’ ” he said.

Mr. Trump, who has been roundly criticized by fellow GOP presidential contenders for the remarks, received student deferments and a medical deferment for a bone spur in his foot.

“In all fairness, I really appreciate and respect some of the things that Trump is saying: He’s being honest, he’s being blunt, he’s right out front with everything, he’s transparent, and so there [are] some really good reasons, I think, to listen to Donald Trump,” Capt. Plumb said.

Asked if there was any chance Mr. Trump would get his vote, he chuckled and said, “No.”

He also called Mr. McCain one of the toughest men he’s ever seen.

“He was one of the most injured prisoners I ever saw in that prison camp — seven broken bones when he was shot down, and they were twisting his broken bones and tortured the poor guy,” he said. “And yet one of the toughest guys I’ve ever seen.”

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