On August 25, Senator John McCain passed away after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor last summer. On Saturday, memorial services will be held in honor of the late Arizona senator.
As many know, John McCain’s mother, Roberta, is still alive today at 106-years-old. And as she gathers, along with the rest of the McCain family, to celebrate her son’s legacy, people will undoubtedly question that of McCain’s father, John S. McCain Jr.
When did John S. McCain Jr. pass, and what was he known for? What was his relationship like with his son?
Read on for details.
1. He Was a United States Admiral
John Sidney “Jack” McCain Jr. led an extremely impressive career as an US Navy admiral throughout the 1940s and 1970s. During World War II, he commanded three different submarines. In the words of reporter Richard Curland from The Bulletin, McCain’s “military goal was to repeat the naval levels of rank attained by his father and his grandfather.”
After the Korean water, according to his New York Times obituary, McCain became the chief of Congressional liaison for the Navy. He was subsequently promoted to rear admiral.
McCain worked in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy from 1958 to 1960, where he joined the Legislative Affairs Office as Chief Legislative Liaison. McCain was Chief of Naval Information from 1962 to 1963; it was during this time that he created relationships with different people from the press, which would benefit his career later on.
2. He Passed Away on March 22, 1981
McCain passed away in 1981, at age 70.
He is survived by his wife, Roberta McCain, who is alive today. A 2008 article in the Associated Press reads, “McCain’s wife, Roberta, quickly became a ‘charming’ and ‘wonderful’ asset to her husband’s career, his superiors wrote. At age 96, she is a spirited campaigner for her son, an example of longevity he uses when challenged about his own age, 71.”
The elopement of Roberta and John resulted in McCain being suspended from his position for five days, according to a 2008 article in the Associated Press. The outlet writes, “McCain, the father of presidential candidate John McCain, was smitten by a pretty blond coed, Roberta Wright. The 22-year-old ensign left his ship, without permission, to elope.” They then quote his commanding officer as saying that McCain “Showed lack of judgment… He might have readily obtained such permission to get married.”
Despite the infraction, McCain was able to go on to receive the same four-star rank as his own father.
While McCain was away on business trips, Roberta would raise their three children, John, Sandy, and Joe.
3. He Was Awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for Heroism
McCain’s efforts in the war earned him a silver star and bronze star for heroism.
After being promoted to rear admiral in 1959, he was named the commander of the Atlantic Amphibious Training Command. He went on to serve as a military representative to the UN from 1965 to 1967.
In 1965, McCain is known for leading the US invasion of the Dominic Republic as commander of Task Force 124.
During the Vietnam War, McCain was Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), and commander of all US forces in the Vietnam theater from 1968 to 1972.
His many other distinguished awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two stars, China Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three stars, amd Navy Occupation Service Medal with ASIA class, among others.
4. He Retired in 1972 After 41 Years of Active Military Duty
McCain retired from the Navy after 41 years of active duty. A close associate told the New York Times in 1972, “He just didn’t come to work today.”
A year after his retirement, his son was released from being a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and taken back to the US. At different times in his retirement, McCain served as an advisor on military matters to Ronald Regan.
He eventually passed on a military aircraft from a heart attack, with his wife at his side. McCain was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on March 27, 1981.
5. He Was Born in Iowa
McCain was born in Iowa. His father was often away at sea, and he hopped around as a child, living in the many locations where his father was posted. While his family referred to him as “Jack”, friends called him “Junior”. Much of the McCain family tree included people who were engaged in military service, including his uncle, US Army Brigadier General William Alexander McCain.
After spending teenage years in Washington, DC, McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1931 at 20 years old. In school, he was given a number of demerits and earned only average grades. An Associated Press article from 2008 reads, “McCain, like his father and later his son, had been in his share of trouble at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., graduating 18th from the bottom of his class. Then in Submarine School, he stood No. 28 in a class of 29.” The article states he was not “afraid to break the rules”, but, at the same time, he “seemed very anxious to succeed.
After graduating, McCain entered the submarine services. In World War II, his expertise made him responsible for sinking a number of Japanese ships.
After the war, he held different jobs in Washington, including the Legislative Affairs Office and Chief of Naval Information. It was his desire that the US government focus on having a strong naval presence that led to him earning the nickname “Mr. Seapower”.