How Many of John McCain’s Children Are in the Military?

john mccain children

Getty Three of John McCain's children served in the military.

Three of John McCain’s seven children served in the U.S. military, continuing a storied family tradition that dates back generations.

Indeed, three of McCain’s four sons have served in the Armed Forces. Jimmy McCain served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan for both the U.S. Marines and the Army. Doug McCain was a Navy pilot, and Jack McCain has served as a Navy pilot.

John McCain tried to keep his children’s military service relatively quiet over the years, although his wife, Cindy McCain, often recognizes her children’s service on social media. Jimmy and Jack (also known as John) McCain are John McCain’s children with his second wife, Cindy, a brewery distributor heiress. McCain, who died at age 81 of brain cancer, also had three children with his first wife, Cindy Shepp McCain, including Doug, whom he adopted.

Jimmy and Jack McCain wore military uniforms during their father’s memorial services.

mccain family

(L-R front) Cindy McCain, wife of US Senator John McCain, with her sons Jack, Jimmy, and daughter’ Meghan and Bridget (R rear), attend the memorial service for Senator McCain at the Arizona Capitol on August 29, 2018, in Phoenix.

Jack escorted his mother:

jack mccain

Cindy McCain and her son Jack arrive for a memorial service to celebrate the life of of U.S. Sen. John McCain at the North Phoenix Baptist Church on August 30, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here’s what you need to know:

McCain Tried to Keep His Son Jimmy’s Deployment to Iraq Private

One reason John McCain hadn’t talked much about his children’s military service before he died: He was apparently worried it could make them a target due to his own prominence. However, when news leaked out in 2008 that his son Jimmy was serving in Iraq, he did express his pride.

When he went to Iraq, Jimmy McCain was only 19-years-old. At the time, his dad had made his support for the war in Iraq a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

john mccain children

The family of US Senator John McCain, James, Meghan, Jack and wife Cindy McCain arrive at the North Phoenix Baptist Church for the memorial service honoring the late US Senator John McCain, August 30, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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. “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.

John McCain expressed pride in Jimmy even as the deployment worried him at the time.

“I’m obviously very proud of my son,” the elder McCain told Time, “but also understandably a little nervous.”

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. 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.

Jack & Doug McCain Also Served in the U.S. Military, Continuing the Family Tradition

douglas mccain

GettyDouglas McCain, John McCain’s son

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.

Jack McCain, McCain’s other son with Cindy McCain, his second wife, attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He became a Navy helicopter pilot.

mccain children

The family of US Senator John McCain; his wife Cindy (2nd R) and children Jack (R); Meghan (3rd R); Bridget (3rd L) and James (L), watches as his casket leaves the Arizona State Capitol on August 30, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. – A motorcade will bring the casket to North Phoenix Baptist Church for a memorial service before it is taken to Washington, DC, where McCain will lie in state at the US Capitol.

McCain’s own father was a prominent Admiral in the U.S. military. According to, “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,” reported.

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