James McCain, who is also known as Jimmy McCain, is one of John McCain’s four sons. He followed his father’s legacy of military service and served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, John McCain was extremely private and quiet about his son’s deployment. Jimmy McCain is one of John McCain’s four children with his second wife, Cindy McCain, a brewery distributor heiress. McCain, who died at age 81 of brain cancer, also had three children with his first wife, Carol Shepp McCain.
Three of the McCain children have served in the U.S. military, and the family was front and center at memorial services for the late Senator and war hero.
Jimmy and brother, Jack, wore military uniforms to the services.
Jimmy McCain read one of his father’s favorite poems at the National Memorial Service:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. McCain Tried to Keep His Son’s Deployment to Iraq Private
Although Senator McCain’s own service – especially his time as a POW in Vietnam – was the subject of national headlines, he tried to keep his own son’s time in Iraq out of the news, apparently because he feared news coverage could make his son a target. The news didn’t keep.
In 2008, newspapers in the United States and throughout the world published the fact that Jimmy McCain, who was then 19-years-old, was serving in Iraq. At the time, his dad had made his support for the war in Iraq a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
According to The Independent, McCain even managed to keep his son’s presence in Iraq quiet when he flew overseas to have dinner with the troops. McCain was a supporter of the Iraq War. “We really never talk about our sons. We have two sons in the military but we never talk about it, if that’s all right. I am so proud of both of them,” John McCain told Fox News of Jimmy and his brother, Jack.
“I’m obviously very proud of my son,” the elder McCain told Time, “but also understandably a little nervous.”
2. Jimmy McCain Enlisted in the Marines When He Was So Young His Mother Had to Give Consent
At the time Jimmy McCain enlisted in the U.S. Marines, Cindy McCain had to sign consent forms for his medical examination, according to The Independent.
He handed out footballs to residents in Iraq and conducted house-to-house patrols, the British newspaper reported, equating his service to that of Britain’s Prince Harry. Jimmy McCain served in the Anbar Province of Iraq.
The New York Times reported that James was only 17-years-old when he enlisted. According to The Times, Jimmy didn’t tell his parents he enlisted until after he had already done so.
Although most of the media attention focused on Jimmy’s time in Iraq, his mother wrote on Twitter that he was also deployed to Afghanistan.
His mother wrote that he served in the Army after leaving the Marines. In 2014, Cindy wrote that Jimmy had been in the Marines but was now in the Army Guard.
3. John McCain Has Two Other Sons Who Served in the U.S. Military
James McCain is not John McCain’s only son to follow his legacy of service. He has two other sons who also did so.
Doug McCain is McCain’s oldest son. The late senator adopted Doug and his brother, Andrew, when he married their mother, Carol Shepp McCain, his first wife. Douglas McCain served as a U.S. Navy pilot. He now works as a pilot for American Airlines.
When McCain went to war in Vietnam, he did so as the son of an Admiral. According to Biography.com, “The son of a decorated Navy admiral, John McCain was born at the Coco Solo Naval Station in Panama on August 29, 1936. He enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy and was dispatched to Vietnam, where he was tortured as a prisoner of war between 1967 and 1973.”
He was born John Sidney McCain III, “the second of three children born to naval officer John S. McCain Jr. and his wife, Roberta.” It was a family with a long legacy of military service. “Both McCain’s father and paternal grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., were four-star admirals, with John Jr. rising to command U.S. naval forces in the Pacific,” Biography.com reported.
4. McCain Brought Jimmy to Meet the Family of a Service Member Who Died In Iraq
In 2008, when he was running for president, McCain brought James along with him to meet the family of a service member who was killed in Iraq, according to The New York Times.
At the time, Jimmy was about to be deployed. Michael Cleary was 24 when he died. Why did James choose the Marines, when the family’s legacy is in the Navy? “He didn’t want to be in the shadow of his father,” a friend of James McCain told The New York Times. He was a lance corporal in the Marines.
“My brother ended up going the quicker route and going the significantly more dangerous route and I think it took quite a few years for my mom to really come to grips with it,” Jack McCain said.
5. McCain’s Family Thanked His Caregivers & the Public for Their Support
McCain’s children and wife have expressed gratitude toward the public for the outpouring of support.
“Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection,” a statement released by the McCain family following John McCain’s death said.
Jimmy McCain married in 2016. Jimmy McCain was once described as the family’s “peacemaker.”