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Jeremiah Denton Jr., former U.S. senator and North Vietnamese POW, dies at 89

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., shortly after he was released from being a Vietnamese prisoner of war

Jeremiah A. Denton Jr., who was a retired Navy rear admiral who spent nearly eight years in captivity as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war and became a United States senator, has died at the age of 89. He died of complications from a heart ailment, according to a Washington Post report on Friday.

In captivity as a POW, he blinked in morse code - "t-o-r-t-u-r-e" while being video recorded by his captors.

Denton was originally from Alabama, the state where he won the race for United States senate in 1980. He was the first Republican to win that state’s senate race in decades.

Though he lost his reelection effort in 1986, he remained popular for his heroism for his work as a naval aviator and for the time he spent as a prisoner of war.

Denton’s first wife, Jane Maury Denton, passed away in 2007. They were married for 61 years. He is survived by his second wife Mary Belle Bordone - of whom he was married for three years – and seven children from his first marriage, a brother, 14 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

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