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Senator John McCain addresses Kings Point Merchant Marine grads

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  • Phelps Hobart
    Members and Friends, Pacific Merchant Marine Council A lot has been said about Senator John McCain. When I was doing a web search for some Merchant Marine news
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2007
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      Members and Friends,
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council
      A lot has been said about Senator John McCain. When I was doing a web search for some Merchant Marine news I found this - notice that he addressed the grads at Kings Point this June.
      Senator McCain retired from the Navy as a Captain. His father and grandfather were both 4 star admirals.
      I did a little additional searching on the Senator. On June 13th he submitted a statement for the Congressional Record on the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act which is linked below.
      Then I was curious about his military career; wikipedia.org provided the information at the bottom of this post.
      Five POWs serve in the Senate!
      Regardless of where you stand on his run for the presidency in the months ahead, this man is a hero! He, as his father and grandfather, has dedicated his life to our country and we are a richer nation for that dedication.
      For us in the Pacific Merchant Marine Council, it is exciting to know his has an understanding of military affairs including the importance of the US flag Merchant Marine.
      Phelps Hobart, Senior Vice President
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council
      Navy League of the United States

      Newsday.com: Long Island News, Sports, Entertainment

      Senator John McCain addresses Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point graduates


      June 18, 2007, 4:21 PM EDT

      U.S. Sen. John McCain, a decorated Naval officer who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, drew on the hardship of those years and from what he learned as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1950s as he talked about leadership Monday to more than 200 graduates at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

      "I've had the good fortune to have known many exemplary leaders in my time, and I'm familiar with their qualities," McCain said during the graduation ceremony at the Merchant Marine Academy's Brooks Stadium.

      His father and grandfather were both four star admirals who he said possessed leadership qualities "in abundance."

      McCain's father, John S. McCain Jr., visited the Merchant Marine Academy in 1966, and the Academy presented Sen. McCain of Arizona with a framed photograph of his father's long-ago visit. And mindful of McCain's time on the campaign trail -- McCain is seeking the Republican nomination for president -- the academy's Class of 2007 President Tyler Stutin presented the senator with an engraved iPod filled with patriotic and nautical songs and audio books on leadership.

      Academy midshipman graduating Monday came from 38 states. Also, six graduates came from the Republic of Panama. One of them, Felix Ayarza Becerra, graduated with a 3.9 grade point average and the highest honors, summa cum laude, and was valedictorian.

      Ayarza, who received a standing ovation from fellow graduates, recalled the rigorous academic and physical challenges of the Academy, which he said "tested our character every day." It also showed he and his classmates, "what they were capable of."

      McCain, who had a 22-year career as a Navy aviator before entering politics, described himself as a "discipline problem" while he was in the Naval Academy. As a result, he said "few, if any, of my superiors at the Academy saw in me the faintest hint of any leadership ability."

      McCain also talked about the servicemen of "extraordinary character" he served with in the prisoner of war camp -- men who he said endured brutal treatment, never sacrificed their loyalty to their country or their integrity.

      "That is the sense of responsibility that makes you a good leader," McCain told the graduating class. "That, my friends, is character."

      From his Senator website.

      Senator John McCain

      U.S. Senator John McCain has a long career of public service.
      After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958, John McCain began his career as a Naval aviator. In 1982, he was elected to Congress representing what was then the first congressional district of Arizona. In 1986, he was elected to the United States Senate to take the place of Arizona's great Senator Barry Goldwater. Senator McCain is currently the senior senator from Arizona.
      In 2000, Senator McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. He is currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.  He also serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
      Senator McCain has seven children and four grandchildren. He and his wife, Cindy, reside in Phoenix.

      06/13/2007 - WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today submitted the following statement for the Congressional Record on the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act:

      View Full Story


      John McCain's early life and military career

      Right: Lieutenant John McCain when he was an instructor in 1965 and 1966 with his squadron
      Right: Lieutenant John McCain when he was an instructor in 1965 and 1966 with his squadron

      McCain was born in Coco Solo in the then American-controlled Panama Canal Zone to Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. and Roberta (Wright) McCain. Although McCain was born in a foreign country, his parents were both U.S. citizens and he acquired United States citizenship at birth, making him eligible for the Presidency.[3] Both his father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals. His father commanded American forces in Vietnam while McCain was a prisoner of war. His grandfather John S. McCain, Sr. commanded naval aviation at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. His mother is Roberta Wright (born 1912). He attended Episcopal High School and graduated in 1954. That autumn, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy, like his father and grandfather. He graduated in 1958.

      In 1965, McCain married Carol Shepp, a model originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McCain adopted his wife's two children Doug and Andy. He and Carol then had a daughter named Sydney. The couple were divorced on April 2, 1980.[4] After graduating from Annapolis, McCain trained as a naval aviator at Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas. During a practice run in Corpus Christi, his aircraft crashed into Corpus Christi Bay, though he escaped without major injuries.[5] Eventually he graduated and became a naval light attack pilot.

      President Richard Nixon greets the released John McCain.
      President Richard Nixon greets the released John McCain.


      McCain was again almost killed during July 29, 1967. While Forrestal cruised off the coast of Vietnam with its crew preparing to launch attacks, a Zuni rocket from an F-4 Phantom was accidentally fired across the carrier's deck. The rocket struck McCain's A-4E Skyhawk as the jet was preparing for launch.[6] The impact ruptured the Skyhawk's fuel tank, which ignited the fuel and knocked two bombs loose. McCain escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, working himself to the nose of the jet, and jumping off its refueling probe onto the burning deck of the aircraft carrier. Ninety seconds after the impact, one of the bombs exploded underneath his airplane. McCain was struck in the legs and chest by shrapnel. The ensuing fire killed 132 sailors, injured 62 others, destroyed at least 20 aircraft, and threatened to sink the ship.[7] A video of the incident has been made available by McCain's Presidential Exploratory Committee.[8]

      After the Forrestal incident, McCain joined the VA-163 Saints on board the short-staffed Oriskany. Before McCain's arrival, on October 26, 1966, a mishandled flare caused a deck fire, resulting in the death of 44 crew, including 24 pilots, and the Oriskany underwent significant repairs.

      The Saints squadron and its parent Air Wing 16 suffered the greatest loss rate of any Navy flying unit during the entire Vietnam War. These heavy losses have been attributed to the perilous missions assigned to the squadron and the aggressiveness of its aviators.[citation needed]

      [edit] Prisoner of war

      Unidentified man being pulled out of a lake in North Vietnam
      Unidentified man being pulled out of a lake in North Vietnam

      On October 26, 1967, McCain's A-4 Skyhawk was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, landing in North Vietnam's Truc Bach Lake, near Hanoi. McCain broke both arms and a leg after ejecting from his plane. After he regained consciousness, a mob gathered around him, spat on him, kicked him and stripped him of his clothing. He was then tortured by North Vietnamese soldiers, who crushed his shoulder with the butt of a rifle and bayoneted him in his left foot and abdominal area. He was then transported to the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the "Hanoi Hilton".[9]

      Once McCain arrived at the prison, he was placed in a cell and interrogated daily. When McCain refused to provide any information to his captors, he was beaten until he lost consciousness.[10]

      When the North Vietnamese discovered his father was the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command, (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, he was offered a chance to return home. McCain turned down the offer of repatriation due to his belief in the principle of "first in, first out": he would only accept the offer if every man taken in before him was released as well.[11]

      Interview with McCain on April 24, 1974, after his return home.
      Interview with McCain on April 24, 1974, after his return home.

      McCain signed an anti-American propaganda message as a result of rigorous torture methods, which to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head. According to McCain, signing the propaganda message is something he most regrets during his time as a POW. After McCain signed the statement, the Vietnamese decided they could not use it. They tried to force him to sign a second statement, and this time he refused. He received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal.[12]

      McCain was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years, mostly in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", and was finally released from captivity in 1973, having been a POW for almost an extra five years due to his earlier refusal to accept an out-of-sequence repatriation offer. McCain was reinstated to flight status and became Commanding Officer of the VA-174 Hellrazors, the East Coast A-7 Corsair II Navy training squadron.[13]

      In 1976 he became the Navy's liaison to the Senate.[14] He retired from the Navy in 1981 as a captain.[15] During his military career, he received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Flying Cross.[16]

      McCain is one of five Vietnam veterans currently serving in the U.S. Senate; the others are Thomas Carper (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John Kerry (D-MA), and Jim Webb (D-VA).[17]

      A television film entitled Faith Of My Fathers, based on McCain's memoir of his experiences as a POW, aired on Memorial Day, 2005 on A&E.[18]

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