Donald Trump is coming under fire again for making controversial remarks. Over the weekend the billionaire businessman criticized the status of U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as a war hero, saying "he's a war hero because he was captured, I like people who weren't captured."
Now fellow GOP candidates and some prisoners of war are criticizing Trump's comments. GOP presidential candidate U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says Trump's comments were offensive and he crossed a line. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also broke from his policy speech on Monday to declare McCain a "real hero."
FOX 7 sat down with Vietnam War POW Harry Ettmueller. "I was going to go in, but it was a matter of when," Ettmueller says of his desire to enlist. He joins a long line of military heroes. "My father was in D-Day. My Uncle Jim, my mother's brother, was in the 8th Air Force out of England. My Uncle George, my mother's other brother, fought in Europe," he says rattling off a list.
Ettmueller signed up when he turned 18. He went to Korea in 1965, then headed to Vietnam before coming back to the U.S. in early 1967 for a short leave. "I requested to go back to Vietnam and I had 45 days left in the Army," he says of his desire to resume his post as a television broadcast engineer. He returned to Vietnam, and a year later, at the beginning of February 1968, was captured in Hue City along with the others he was stationed with.
The group had been under attack for several days before becoming POWs. "There was nothing more we could do, we were trapped on three sides, and there was a barbed wire fence on the other," Ettmueller says.
Ettmueller says the group was shoeless during the three month trek to their first of several camps. "I didn't know whether they were going to shoot us or not."
They were held for 61 months, two days and ten hours. Ettmueller describes the horrific experience. "Solitary confinement for over a year, the usual threats, food taken away, being beaten and punched, defecating all over your self." He says the worst part of that solitary confinement was being locked inside a tiger cage.
Staff Sergeant Ettmueller was 28 when he was finally released. "I'm not a military hero I just did my job, it was a job and I willingly accepted it," he says humbly. Nevertheless, he's been awarded two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, and a Prisoner of War Medal.
So imagine Ettmueller's reaction to Donald Trump's comments over former POW Senator McCain. "Unless you've been in, it's not what your friends friend whose friend told you weren't there, keep your mouth shut," Ettmueller says of the remarks, "Donald Trump where were you? You managed to avoid the draft."
Ettmueller believes it's another way for the presidential candidate to stay in the headlines. " My fear is he's going to split the Republican party."
And should the billionaire businessman get the GOP nod? Ettmueller says he'll sit the election out, "I served, I did my thing for the country and if I don't want to vote it's my prerogative."