Denton, a native of Mobile, Alabama, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 and served as a U.S. Navy pilot from 1946 to 1977. On 18 July 1965, his plane was shot down over North Vietnam and he was held as a prisoner-of-war until February 1973. He retired from the Navy in 1977 at the grade of Rear Admiral. In 1980, Denton was elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, the first Republican elected to statewide office since Reconstruction. He was among the Republican senators elected in 1980 to give the Republicans a majority in the Senate during President Ronald Reagan's first term. During his term, he served on the Senate Armed Service Committee's subcommittees on Manpower and Personnel, on Preparedness, and on Seapower and Force Projection; on the Judiciary Committee's subcommittees on Security and Terrorism, on Immigration and Refugee Policy, and on Juvenile Justice; on the Labor and Human Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Family and Human Services; and on the Veterans Affairs and Aging Committees.
Denton published his account of his prisoner-of-war experiences, "When Hell Was in Session," (New York: Readers Digest Press, 1976).
From the description of U.S. Senate campaign and office records, 1980-1986. (Auburn University). WorldCat record id: 26876044