How John McCain’s Years as a Vietnam POW Shaped His Life

John McCain, the Arizona Senator who died on Saturday, lived much of his life in the public political eye — but Americans started to learn about his famous courage at a time he was notably absent.

The saga began 51 years ago. As TIME reported in 1967, North Vietnamese planes had, for the first few years of the war in Vietnam, posed relatively little risk to American pilots. That changed as the pace of war accelerated and the eyes on both sides turned to the skies.

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