RICHMOND, Va -- At the Virginia War Memorial, the Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center bears the name of one Virginia’s most respected former Navy Commanders and Prisoners of War.
Galanti flew 97 combat missions in Vietnam in an A-K Skyhawk before being shot down and captured on June 17th, 1966. He remained a prisoner under the North Vietnamese for seven years, until his release in February of 1973.
“It was miserable,” Galanti remembers.
By Galanti's side, was his friend and former comrade John McCain. "He's like my brother," Galanti said of his long-time friend.
“He was really in bad shape when he was brought in and he never gave an inch… never! He fought and fought and fought."
Galanti said McCain even refused an early offer for his release. He told his captors that he would rather stay than leave the camp without every single POW. Galanti said recent comments made by Donald Trump, about McCain’s war record, are upsetting.
On Saturday, the real estate tycoon and GOP candidate accused McCain of not being a true war hero because he was captured.
“It was a cheap shot,” Galanti said.
“We don’t consider ourselves a hero, but someone who never went (to war) can’t say that.”
On Monday, Senator John McCain directly addressed Trump’s comments. When asked if he wanted an apology, McCain said Trump should not apologize to him, but should instead apologize to other POWs and their families.
Like McCain, Galanti said he doesn’t expect an apology from Trump. He accused the multi-millionaire of pandering to a naive electorate for attention.
“They can’t hurt us,” Galanti said. “If the Vietnamese couldn’t do it, there’s no way Donald Trump is going to do it.”
Galanti, who now serves as a commissioner for the library at the Virginia War Memorial, said it’s impossible to strip POW’s of the respect they’ve rightfully earned in the eyes of the American people.