John McCain recalls the Christmas of 1972:

Finally came the day I’ll never forget—the eighteenth of December, 1972. The whole place exploded when the Christmas bombing ordered by President Nixon began. They hit Hanoi right off the bat.

It was the most spectacular show I’ll ever see. By then we had large windows in our rooms. These had been covered with bamboo mats, but in October, 1972, they took them down. We had about a 120-degree view of the sky, and, of course, at night you can see all the flashes. The bombs were dropping so close that the building would shake. The SAM’s [surface-to-air missiles] “were flying all over and the sirens were whining—it was really a wild scene. When a B-52 would get hit—they’re up at more than 30,000 feet—it would light up the whole sky. There would be a red glow that almost made it like daylight, and it would last for a long time, because they’d fall a long way.

We knew at that time that unless something very forceful was done that we were never going to get out of there. We had sat there for 31/2 years with no bombing going on–November of ’68 to May of ’72. We were fully aware that the only way that we were ever going to get out was for our Government to turn the screws on Hanoi.