John McCain Dies at 81 Following Battle With Cancer

Playing Arizona Sen. John McCain Dies of Brain Cancer at 81

U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain, who spent six years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, has died after battling brain cancer. He was 81.

He had recently announced his decision to discontinue treatment. 

Cindy, his wife, thanked all those who offered their support, adding that her heart is "broken."

His daughter Meghan said she would love her father forever in an emotional statement posted on Twitter. 

John Sidney McCain III had served as the senior senator from Arizona since 1987 and ran unsuccessfully against Barack Obama in 2008 on an ill-fated GOP ticket with vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

He died at his Arizona home.

Though he voiced measured support of President Trump’s tax reform bill, he was physically unable to participate in the Senate’s 51-48 passage of the highly contentious measure in December.

He was admitted earlier that month to Walter Reed National Military Center for treatment of side effects from chemotherapy and radiation to beat glioblastoma, a terminal and aggressive form of brain cancer.

He was diagnosed in July 2017 and began treatment in September at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, next to Walter Reed.

“As ever, he remains grateful to his physicians for their excellent care, and his friends and supporters for their encouragement and good wishes,” his office said after he was admitted to the military hospital.

Hailed as a maverick for most of his military and political life, McCain entered the former as a 1958 Naval Academy graduate. He followed his father and grandfather, who were four-star admirals, into military service.

In 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, his A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over North Vietnam. He was severely injured and taken prisoner.

He broke both arms and a leg in the crash. On the ground he was beaten and stabbed with a bayonet by North Vietnamese soldiers.

In captivity, he was tortured and held in solitary confinement. He attempted suicide, but was stopped by guards. He was released in 1973. Because of his injuries, McCain was permanently unable to raise his arms over his head.

He underwent months of excruciating physical therapy after his homecoming. He later attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. and returned to duty, where he became the commanding officer of a training squadron based in Florida.

He retired in 1981 as a captain, after receiving numerous decorations including the Silver Star, two Bronze Star medals, two Purple Hearts and a Prisoner of War commendation.

He moved to Arizona and joined his second wife, Cindy, a Phoenix teacher.

His entrance to national politics came in 1982, when he ran for an open seat in the House of Representatives. He was a conservative-leaning Republican, but gained a reputation for not being afraid to disagree with members of his own party.

He was elected to the Senate seat in 1986 and began serving in 1987, after weathering the so-called “Keating Five” scandal involving Charles Keating Jr. and his failed savings and loan.

Throughout his time in the Senate, McCain made campaign reform one of his signature efforts and fought to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s.

He also advocated support of the country’s Native American population and condemned torture and “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding used in the War on Terror.

Following his 2008 presidential loss, McCain exercised his influence as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to support military intervention in the Syrian Civil War and in 2013 became the first U.S. senator to visit Syrian rebels.

In 2017, after undergoing a minimally invasive surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye, a tissue sample revealed the presence of brain cancer.

President Trump phoned McCain’s wife to offer his sympathies, but his call came after months of bitterness between the two politicians.

After a 2005 tape surfaced amid the 2016 presidential election of Trump talking about sexually assaulting women, McCain withdrew his support of the Republican nominee.

“When Mr. Trump attacks women and demeans the women in our nation and in our society, that is a point where I just have to part company,” the senator said.

“I have daughters, I have friends. I have so many wonderful people on my staff. They cannot be degraded and demeaned in that fashion,” he said.

His daughter Meghan is a television personality and co-host of "The View." During a recent appearance by former Vice President Joe Biden, who is promoting his new book, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose," the Democrat lauded Meghan’s father and offered words of encouragement.

Biden’s book is about his late son Beau, and his battle against the very same brain cancer that afflicted McCain.

“Look, one of the things that gave Beau courage, my word, was John. Your dad, you may remember when you were a little kid. Your dad took care of my Beau,” Biden told a weeping Meghan as he held fast to her hand.

Biden and his son “talked about your dad’s courage, not about illness, but about his courage.”

The Delaware Democrat called McCain “one of my best friends.”

And thought they were on opposite sides of the aisle, “We’re like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers or something because of our points of view,” Biden said.

“Even when your dad got mad at me, said I should get the hell of the ticket, and remember what I said about your dad?

“I said I know, and I mean this sincerely, I know if I picked up the phone tonight, and called John McCain and said, ‘I need your help, come,’ he’d get on a plane and come. And I would for him.’’’

McCain is survived by his wife, Cindy, and seven children; three from his first marriage and four from his marriage to Cindy.

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