Politics

ARIZONA SENATOR JOHN S. McCAIN III IS DEAD: 1936-2018

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SENATOR McCAIN’S FINAL DAYS

Senator McCain ended his treatments on Friday, and passed away peacefully today just 4 days short of his 82nd birthday.  In July, 2017 Senator McCain, R-AZ, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.  This was the same cancer that took the life of Senator Ted Kennedy, D-MA, on the same day, August 25, 2009.  Former VP Joe Biden’s son, Beau, passed away from this brain cancer in 2015.

The Senator is survived by his mother, Roberta, who is 106 years of age, his wife Cindy, and seven children, as well as his sister, Sandy and his brother, Joe.

John Sidney McCain, III, was born on August 29, 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, to John S. McCain, Jr., and Roberta Wright McCain.  At the time, both his father and grandfather were serving in the U.S. Navy.

McCAIN CAME FROM LONG LINE OF PATRIOTS

Grandfather, John Sidney McCain, Sr., (AKA “Slew”), August 9, 1884 to September 6, 1945, was a U.S. Naval Four-Star Admiral and held several commands in the Pacific theatre during WWII.

Grandfather John Sidney McCain, Sr. August 9, 1884 to September 6, 1945, was a U.S. Naval Four-Star Admiral.

Admiral McCain passed away just four days after the Japanese signed the surrender agreement on the USS Missouri, on September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Harbor.  Him and his son (the Senator’s father) were the first father-son pair to achieve four-star admiral rank.

Father, John Sidney McCain, Jr., (AKA “Jack”), January 17, 1911 to March 22, 1981, was a U.S. Naval Four-Star Admiral.  Jack had a long career in the Navy between the 1940s and 1970s.  During the Vietnam War McCain as Commander-In-Chief of Pacific Command.  He commanded all U. S. forces in the Vietnam theatre during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1972.

Father John Sidney McCain, Jr. January 17, 1911 to March 22, 1981, was a U.S. Naval Four-Star Admiral.

Senator McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958 and became a Navy pilot and officer.  He served for 22 years, leaving the Navy in 1981.

Son, John Sidney McCain, IV, is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

SENATOR McCAIN HAS SEVEN CHILDREN

When McCain was married to his first wife, Cindy Shepp, he adopted her two sons, Douglas, age 57 and Andrew, age 55.  Together they had Sidney, age 50.

McCain and his second wife, Cindy Hensley, had three children together: Meghan, age 32, John IV, age 31 and James, age 29.  They also adopted an orphan from Bangladesh, Bridget, age 25.

McCain, his wife Cindy and their four children: Meghan, Bridget, James, John IV. Their children are all adults now.

When Cindy brought an orphan home with her from a 1991 charity trip, the three-month-old was unable to eat due to her cleft palate.  The baby had been living in a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa.  Mr. & Mrs. McCain arranged for surgery to save her life and subsequently adopted her, naming her Bridget.

NORTH VIETNAM PRISONER OF WAR

Have you ever noticed that Senator McCain does not lift his arms above his head?  Indeed, he never raises his hands or elbows above his shoulders.  He can’t.  His injuries from the plane crash were not properly cared for while he was a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam.  Moreover, he was tortured on & off during his five and one-half years of confinement.

On October 26, 1967 Lt. Commander John S. McCain, III, was flying a Navy Skyhawk dive bomber on his 23rd mission over the heart of Hanoi.  A Russian missile blew off a wing of his plane.  As the plane spiraled downward, McCain pulled his injection handle.

THE BEGINNING OF FIVE & A HALF YEARS IN NORTH VIETNAM PRISON

McCain & his parachute landed in Western Lake in the middle of Hanoi.  He was struggling to stay afloat because one leg and one arm were useless, and sank to the bottom several times. Eventually, McCain was able to employ his inflatable life preserver, and floated to the top.

After McCain jet crashed into Western Lake in the heart of Hanoi, several North Vietnamese swam out, pulled him to the side of the lake.

After McCain jet crashed into Western Lake in the heart of Hanoi, several North Vietnamese swam out, pulled him to the side of the lake.

Several North Vietnamese swam out, pulled the flyer to the side of the lake and immediately stripped off most of his clothes.  A crowd of people gathered, and some began kicking, spitting, screaming at him.  One of them slammed a rifle butt down on his shoulder, causing significant damage.  Another person stuck a bayonet into his foot.

A few minutes later, a man walked over and yelled at the crowd to stop hurting him.  McCain was then put on a stretcher, taken to Hanoi’s main prison and there left on a cell floor with only a blanket over him.

NO MEDICAL ATTENTION

Over the next three or four days, while lapsing in & out of consciousness, McCain was interrogated by the North Vietnamese military.  They wanted military information from him.  He refused to give them any information except his name, rank, serial number and date of birth.

During these interrogations, McCain was knocked out several times.  They continually told him he would not receive any medical attention until he talked.  The guard gave McCain just a little water and food.

VIET CONG MILITARY DISCOVER McCAIN’S FATHER IS A NAVY ADMIRAL

On the fourth day a military officer came rushing into his room, shouting “Your father is a big admiral, now we take you to the hospital.”  In the hospital McCain received plasma and blood.  He laid in a hospital bed in a filthy room, guarded by a 16-year-old boy who periodically slammed & hit him.  During the following 10 days or so his only daily food intake was three or four spoonfuls of soup.

This photo was taken by a French journalist. It was staged by the Viet Cong military to pretend McCain was receiving proper medical care. He wasn’t.

FRENCH MEDIA ARRIVES SO VIET CONG PUT ON A FALSE FRONT

After the Viet Cong discovered that McCain’s father was an Admiral with the U.S. Navy, they used his name in a big propaganda campaign aimed at Americans.  To that end, they invited a French TV journalist to meet with McCain.

Several hours before the TV journalist was to arrive, McCain was wheeled on a stretcher to a treatment room.  There, they spent two hours trying to put a cast on McCain’s right arm, which was broken in three places.  Since this was done without anesthesia McCain passed out several times.  They eventually gave up and just slapped on a body cast.

The hospital personnel then wheeled McCain into a big, clean hospital room and put him in a bed with white sheets. McCain told them he did not want to be filmed.  They told him, if he did not meet with the French journalist, he would not receive the two surgeries he needed.

When the French TV journalist arrived with two photographers he asked McCain about his treatment.  To which, McCain answered that it was satisfactory.  The guards tried to force McCain to admit to his crimes for the cameras, but he refused.  Apparently satisfied that he had enough propaganda film, the French journalist left.

WHEELED BACK TO THE CRAMPED FILTHY ROOM

Since the big, clean hospital room was just for show, after the journalist & cameras left they wheeled McCain back into his cramped, filthy room.  Two weeks later they gave him an operation on his leg.  [Much later, U.S. surgeons told McCain that the surgery had been done all wrong.]  Nothing further was done to his arm and it “healed” on its own.

After about six weeks in the hospital, McCain was taken to his first Prisoner of War prison.  There, he was put into a cell with two other U.S. POWs, both Air Force majors.

McCAIN’S NEW ROOMMATES DID NOT EXPECT HIM TO LIVE

Major George Day & Major Norris Overly fed him and took care of him so he recovered rapidly.  Later, Day told McCain that they did not expect him to live a week.  When McCain was put in the cell, he was down to 100 pounds from his normal 155 pounds.  Under their care McCain began to gain weight.

Five months after his fighter jet had been shot down, McCain was able to walk again.  Then, the North Vietnamese moved him into solitary confinement where he remained for two years.  McCain was still interrogated from time to time, but the torture had stopped.

CHANGE OF ADMINISTRATIONS IMPROVED McCAIN’S PLIGHT

In his autobiography, McCain states “Until the Nixon Administration came to office in 1969, the Government back home (that is, the Johnson Administration) had taken the attitude: ‘Don’t talk about the prison-of-war situation lest you hurt the Americans still over there.’”

Shortly after Richard Nixon was sworn in (January 20, 1969), the Viet Cong allowed three U.S. POWs to go home, including one of McCain’s roommates.  The American people learned for the first time that Americans were being held and tortured by the North Vietnamese Military.

A few months after the three were released, treatment of remaining prisoners improved drastically.  McCain credits President Nixon for this, and he believes this improved treatment saved his life.

McCAIN IS MOVED TO THE HANOI HILTON

In December 1969, McCain was moved to another prison, called the “Hanoi Hilton” by the POWs.  This was an improvement from his previous accommodations.  There, he continued to be held in solitary confinement on and off.  They also interrogated him on and off, wanting him to make anti-war statements.

In hopes he would break and give them the filmed statement they wanted, McCain was kept in a cell which was 6 feet by 2 feet, with no ventilation.  This was the summer of 1970.  Vietnam is in the tropics.  Not only are temperatures extremely high, but so is the humidity.

McCain suffered with heat prostration several times, as well as dysentery.  His food rations were drastically cut, and McCain sometimes went for days without eating.  He was covered in boils and lost weight again due to 18 months suffering from dysentery.

HANOI HILTON HOUSED 335 PRISONERS OF WAR

Shortly before Christmas of 1970, McCain was put into a large room with 45 to 50 other prisoners.  Nearby were six other large rooms, each with 45 to 50 prisoners.  At that time the North Vietnamese military held 335 prisoners of war, virtually all were American servicemen.

While trying to hold Christian services for themselves and other prisoners, the senior officers were removed from their “dorm rooms.”  This started a removal process wherein the Viet Cong removed three or four men at a time until 36 men were in another building.  This was deemed a form of punishment because it was not as comfortable as the dorm rooms.

During this time the POWs were bombarded with anti-war quotes from U.S. politicians and bureaucrats.  Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) criticisms of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War were quoted again & again, hoping to demoralize the Prisoners of War.

McCAIN WOULD NOT ACCEPT RELEASE

A number of times over his 5.5 years as a POW, McCain was offered chances to be released.  He refused each time because men who had been there longer than him had not been released.  McCain insisted that the U.S. Prisoners of War should be released in the order they had been captured.

This photo was taken March 15, 1973 when an emaciated McCain was being escorted to the airport for his flight to freedom.

In his first hand account, McCain called 1971 & 1972 “a sort of coasting period.”  They were fed regularly and allowed to exercise.  In January 1973, McCain and the other prisoners knew the end of the war was near.  The men were moved into groups based upon the time frame they were captured.  They knew the Viet Cong were probably getting ready to release them.

McCain was moved to another building, called the “plantation.”  There the prisoners were allowed to spend their days in the courtyard.  One day in March the prisoners were put on buses and driven to Gia Lam Airport.  As the Viet Cong read their names, one by one, the American Prisoners of War boarded planes headed home.

That was March 15, 1973.  Senator McCain earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.

Rest In Peace, Lt. Commander.

Diane L. Gruber
Grateful American

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