• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

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6 minutes reading time (1168 words)

Arizona Sen. John McCain dead at 81

His office released a brief statement at 5:17 p.m.

“Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018. With the Senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years.”

His death marks the end of an extraordinary life in which the son and grandson of two Navy admirals rose from the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy to nearly winning the presidency.

In his 30-plus years in Congress, McCain would overcome an early scandal that threatened to end his political career and earned the nickname "Maverick" because of his willingness, at times, to break ranks with his own Republican party.

Although the presidency would elude McCain twice -- in 2000 and again in 2008 -- he remained one of the most influential voices in the Senate, particularly in the area of foreign policy.

In November 2016, voters elected him to his sixth term in the Senate.

But in July the following year, doctors diagnosed him with a glioblastoma, a rare and extremely lethal brain cancer.

The grim prognosis didn't appear to immediately slow down McCain who kept a robust schedule and didn't hold back his pointed criticism of President Donald Trump.

In fact, a week after he was diagnosed, McCain returned to Washington to deal President Trump's healthcare bill a fatal blow in dramatic fashion.

That moment appeared to cement McCain's reputation as a politician with a fierce independent streak, although his overall voting record shows he was more partisan than his public image.

But a review of McCain life shows that his story is one of survival.

As McCain said numerous times, "I'm the luckiest man I know."

Growing up on the move

John McCain was born Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone when the area was still under U.S. control.

As the son of a naval officer, McCain and the family were constantly on the move.

He attended 20 different schools on his way to graduating from a private boarding school in Virginia in 1954.

McCain then headed off to U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, graduating in 1958 near the bottom of his class, ranking 894 out of 899.

After completing flight school in 1960, the young naval pilot married his first wife, Carol Shepp, five years later.

But it would be another two years before McCain first emerged onto the national stage.

On Oct. 26, 1967, his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down during a bombing run over Hanoi.

Prisoner of war

McCain broke both arms and one leg after ejecting from the plane.

Grainy black and white video shows the wounded the pilot parachuting into Truc Bach Lake where was captured and beaten by the North Vietnamese who brought him ashore.

He was eventually taken to the infamous H?a Lò Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton.

During his five-and-a-half year imprisonment, McCain endured cruel beatings and other forms of torture.

McCain was offered an early release because his father was a high ranking military official. But he refused.

On March 14, 1973, McCain was released but he would carry the physical scars of his POW experience with him for the rest of his life. As a result of his torture, he would never be able to lift his arms over his head.

Getting into politics

After retiring from the Navy, McCain settled down in Arizona where he met his second wife, Cindy Hensley, and eventually made a run for Congress in 1982.

During the campaign, he overcame attacks that he was a carpetbagger and won a seat in Congress.

Four years later, McCain he would run and win a seat in the Senate, replacing iconic Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.

"I hope I don't become a snob," McCain said after winning a seat in the upper chamber.

But just as it appeared his political career was about to take off, scandal threatened to take him down.

In 1989, McCain found himself in the middle of the Keating Five scandal, named after wealthy Phoenix businessman Charles Keating.

Five senators were accused of improperly pressuring a regulatory agency on behalf of Keating, who was also a contributor to McCain's campaign.

But he would survive.

Run for the Oval Office

With the corruption scandal behind him, McCain would launch his insurgent bid for the presidency in 2000, touring the country on the "Straight Talk Express."

Although it was a longshot bid, he would score a surprising primary victory in New Hampshire before he was eventually defeated after Super Tuesday.

During his concession speech in Sedona, McCain would say, "We're Americans. We never give up. We never quit."

Ten years later, McCain would once again seek the presidency, this time winning the GOP nomination in 2008 in what would turn out to be one of the most historic campaigns in U.S. history.

"Tonight I have a privilege given few Americans, the privilege of accepting our party's nomination for president of the United States," McCain said the night of his nomination.

It would be the high-water mark of his political career. He would end up losing to then Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois.

Once again, he would show his resolve.

Instead of fading away, McCain would go on to win two more terms in the Senate.

Governor Ducey’s Statement On Senator John S. McCain

“John McCain is one American who will never be forgotten.

He was a giant. An icon. An American hero. But here at home, we were most proud to call him a fellow Arizonan. Like so many of us, he was not born here, but his spirit, service and fierce independence shaped the state with which he became synonymous.

Angela and I join all Arizonans in praying for Cindy and the entire McCain family during this difficult time and offering our full support.

As we mourn his passing and celebrate his truly phenomenal life, we’re also faced with the void John McCain’s absence leaves in the heart and soul of our nation.

John McCain fought for America every day — from the Navy through Vietnam to the U.S. Senate. He fought for what he thought was right, even when it wasn’t popular. His dogged patriotism and passion for country made him an inspiration, and a model, for all of us.

John McCain was about more than politics. He brought us above partisanship and challenged us to be great.

He once told us, ‘We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.’

May his life and legacy continue to inspire us to build a future for this country, and a history for this country, that would make John McCain proud.”

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