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John McCain passes away on this day…

25 August 2018

…and another piece disappears of the era where our leaders are cast from service and duty.

U.S. Navy file photo dated 13 January 1964 of U.S. Navy Lieutenant John Sidney McCain III

John McCain is known for many things, mostly good ones and very good ones, which is the best most can hope for when death comes and brings life to a tally.

He met his battles well and his final one was no exception.

I’m a military child and grew up during the Vietnam War so two things John McCain did have always been with me to remind me to be the best that I can be:

  • He was in his A-4 Skyhawk, loaded for another combat mission over North Vietnam on the USS Forrestal the fine day of 29 July 1967 when hell broke out on the flight deck. A Zuni rocket of an F-4 unintentionally launched, which began events leading to the loss of 134 crew with a further 161 injured. 21 aircraft were destroyed with another 40 damaged leaving only 12 undamaged. I’ve seen video of John McCain escaping his Skyhawk by nimbly traversing the in-flight refueling probe to escape the fire underneath his aircraft. He clears the conflagration then turns around to return into the chaos which resulted with being wounded by an exploding bomb. That’s not training. That is duty to something bigger than one’s self.
  • As we all know he was shot down on his 23rd combat mission and seriously injured during ejection. Captured he endured 5½ years as a PoW which included regular torture sessions—two, sometimes three, beatings per week. He could have gotten out early but at the cost of PoWs ahead of him, so he refused early repatriation though that meant even more beatings. How many leaders do we know who would do that? More than we know or suspect—but it shows integrity can mean everything, often the only thing.

John McCain is a man to emulate. No exception. No caveat.

He is dearly missed and will be for a long time to come.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 August 2018 00:01

    He stood strong and did not bend in the face of torture. He managed to survive the Forestall disaster initial explosion, then went back into the flames and was injured when another bomb cooked off.

    Disagree with his politics all you want, but never question his patriotism, loyalty to his shipmates, nor his love of the air. RIP, John McCain.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      26 August 2018 08:13

      Indeed, well written.

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