The incredible life of John McCain in photos
Sen. John McCain of Arizona shares a laugh with one of his closest friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Republican Sen. John McCain, 81, has died after a long battle with brain cancer.
The Arizona senator was diagnosed with an aggressive form of glioblastoma and began treatment for the disease in July 2017. McCain appeared to be undeterred for several months after his diagnosis was made public.
He was seen back at work on Capitol Hill last fall and weighed in on major legislative policies, including the annual defense authorization bill and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I don’t mean to be repetitious, but to my Democrat friends and some of my Republican friends: I’m coming back,” McCain said during a Facebook Live event in August last year.
McCain made headlines upon his return — including when he dramatically voted no on the Republican version of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
His career as a public servant spanned decades of honorable service, and despite some challenges along the way, McCain established himself as a key figurehead of the Republican Party. He was known to buck the GOP’s leadersip — earning the nickname “Maverick” — and reach across the political aisle to voice his candid opinions.
Here’s a look back at John McCain’s incredible life:
McCain graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1958 and served as a pilot.
On October 26, 1967, during the Vietnam War, McCain was flying over Hanoi when a surface-to-air missile hit his plane’s wing, forcing him to eject.
McCain broke both of his arms and his right knee. He had lost consciousness until he hit the water after ejecting from the plane.
McCain was released on March 14, 1973.
McCain made several trips back to Vietnam to bridge relations with the US.
McCain would eventually retire from the Navy in 1981 as a captain. His awards include a Silver Star and a Distinguished Flying Cross.
Some areas of the prison where McCain was held were converted into a museum, dedicated to the historic link between his service and the Vietnam War.
During a visit to the infamous prison, McCain said he could not forgive the jailers who mistreated and killed fellow POWs.
McCain married Cindy Hensley in 1980 and had a daughter, two sons, and adopted another daughter from Bangladesh.
After serving as a Navy liaison in the Senate, McCain took the leap into politics and was elected to serve Arizona’s 1st Congressional District from 1982 to 1984.
After his two terms in the House, McCain sought Arizona’s Senate seat and won a landslide victory in 1986.
Sen. McCain hit a bump in the road in 1989.
Following the scandal, McCain soon earned the moniker of “Maverick,” a term his colleagues from both sides of the political aisle gave him as he advocated for campaign finance reform and sought to end government waste.
McCain would soon became a household name in politics. He set his sights higher and announced in 1999 that he would run for president in the 2000 election.
After losing several states in the primaries to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, McCain withdrew from the race and endorsed Bush.
One of McCain’s crowning achievements in the Senate was the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, McCain supported the US-led coalition war in Afghanistan.
McCain also supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and claimed Saddam Hussein was “turning Iraq into a weapons assembly line for al-Qaida’s network.”
McCain announced his second presidential bid for the 2008 election.
McCain gracefully spars with then-Sen. Barack Obama.
McCain selects Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.
McCain concedes to Obama in November 2008: “This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.”
As the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain provided legislative oversight of the military and became a leading voice on veterans issues.
But as the chairman of the legislative body of military affairs, McCain also had to account for the military’s failures.
For the most part, McCain maintained friendly ties with other lawmakers, regardless of their political party.
In July 2017, McCain announced he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
But McCain remained strong in his conviction that elected officials should be held accountable for their actions.
A decisive Affordable Care Act vote.
McCain also had a gruff, but affectionate relationship with journalists.
McCain discontinues treatment for brain cancer.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. Maybe I’ll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they’ll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I’ll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable.”
“I have some things I’d like to take care of first, some work that needs finishing, and some people I need to see. And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may.”
“It’s been quite a ride.”
John McCain, war hero and longtime senator, dead at 81
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