Senator John McCain’s remarkable record of leadership and experience embodied an unwavering lifetime commitment to service.
As the son and grandson of distinguished Navy admirals, John McCain deeply valued duty, honor and service of country. John attended college at the United States Naval Academy, and launched a 22-year career as a naval aviator upon his graduation.
On July 29, 1967, John narrowly survived the first of many near-death experiences during his lifetime while preparing to take off on a bombing mission over North Vietnam from his ship, the USS Forrestal. A missile accidentally fired from a nearby plane and struck the fuel tanks on his plane. Instead of taking the option to return home after the Forrestal disaster, Senator McCain volunteered for more combat duty – a fateful decision that stopped the clock on his life and separated him from his family, and country, for five and a half years.
During his 23rd bombing mission on October 26, 1967, a missile struck his plane and forced him to eject, knocking him unconscious and breaking both his arms and his leg. John was then taken as a prisoner of war into the now infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was denied necessary medical treatment and often beaten by the North Vietnamese. He spent much of his time as a prisoner of war in solitary confinement, aided by his faith and the friendships of his fellow POWs. When he was finally released and able to return home years later, Senator McCain continued his service by regaining his naval flight status.
Senator McCain’s last Navy duty assignment was to serve as the naval liaison to the United States Senate. He retired from the Navy in 1981. His naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Senator McCain served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was elected to the United States Senate in 1986. Senator McCain served on the following Senate Committees during the 115th Congress: Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services; Member and former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; and Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Senator McCain had seven children and five grandchildren, and resided in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Cindy.