Childhood and Early Life
John Sidney McCain III was born in a naval station in Panama known as the Coco Solo on August 29, 1936. He was born into a family of four-star admirals with his father later John S McCain junior later rising to command the United States naval forces in the Pacific. Since Senator John McCain grew up in a family that held military service in high regard he spent most of his childhood years moving from one military base to the other in America and abroad.
Following his family history McCain went ahead and joined the United States Naval academy where he graduated bottom his class in 1958, the low performance was attributed by his indifference and he says the subjects that were taught were not in his line of interest. He also graduated from flight school in 1960 which later advised his interest to volunteer for combat duty with the outbreak of the Vietnam War.
His flying training had him fly career-based attack planes bombing runs against the Vietnamese. It was during this period on July 29, 1967, in the Gulf of Tonkin that his jet was inadvertently shot by a missile triggering a fire that killed 134 people and left him with a serious injury. However, he recovered and went back to active duty, that same year on October 26, 1967, his jet was shot down while doing a bombing run over Hanoi, the North Vietnam capital. He was badly injured as the plane crashed into the Truc Bach Lake and captured by North Vietnamese who confined and tortured then later on December 9, 1969, moved to Hoa Loa prison which was famously known as “Hanoa Hilton”.
McCain was in prison for a total of five years being in solitary confinement for most of that time. When his captors learned that his father John S McCain Jr. was a high ranking Navy officer they tried to offer him early release but McCain refused and asked to be released together with other prisoners of war, he also knew the Vietnamese would use his release as propaganda. Finally, he was released in 1973, two months after the cease-fire took effect with other American prisoners, and he got a hero’s welcome back at home with several service awards, including the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. Despite the injuries he sustained in prison McCain still went back to serve as a naval aviator for a nine-month period.
Life in Politics
McCain joined politics in 1976 when he became the Navy’s liaison officer to the U.S Senate. He then moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his second wife Cindy Hensley and worked as a public relations officer in his father-in-law’s beer distribution firm. McCain used this position to advance his connection in the political arena. McCain used his war record to help him clinch the seat in the U.S House of Representatives, and with the retirement of the Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, McCain went for the seat and was elected senator.
McCain was a force to reckon with in the Senate being bold in questioning the ruling Republican orthodoxy he earned the nickname ‘The Maverick ’.
In 1980 McCain was accused to be involved in a scandal of improperly intervening with federal policy to favor Charles Keating, Jr. He was however cleared by the Senate in 1991 for any illegal dealings. In 2000, he unsuccessfully ran against George W Bush for Republican Presidential nomination. Then after aligning himself with Bush in 2007 he secured a Republican nomination and ran against the Democrat’s candidate Barrack Obama.