McCain, John, 1936-2018

Alternative names
Birth 1936-08-29
Death 2018-08-25

Biographical notes:

John Sidney McCain III was born to John Sidney McCain (1911-1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (1912-) in the Panama Canal Zone on August 29, 1936. He attended school in Alexandria, Virginia and went on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy (1958) and the National War College (1973). McCain began his career as a naval aviator in 1958. On October 26, 1967 McCain was shot down over Hanoi during his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam. He was taken to the Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, and provided medical care only after his captors discovered that his father was an admiral. in December of 1967, McCain was transferred to a different camp on the outskirts of Hanoi. He was put in solitary confinement in March of 1968, where he remained for two years. His captors began torturing him in August of 1968 and McCain eventually made an anti-American propaganda confession . He was subsequently abused for refusing to sign additional statements. Life became more tolerable for the American POWs beginning in late 1969, and McCain was released in March of 1973.

After undergoing treatment for his injuries, McCain had his flight status reinstated in 1974 and became the commanding officer of a training squadron stationed in Florida. He became the Navy's liaison to the U.S. Senate beginning in 1977. In 1981, McCain retired from the Navy at the rank of captain in order to run for Congress. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1983 and served in the 98th and 99th Congresses. He was elected to the Senate in 1987, where he has served since. McCain earned a reputation as a maverick Republican and worked extensively to end pork barrel spending and enact campaign finance reform. During the early 2000s, McCain broke openly with President George W. Bush on such issues as HMO reform, climate change, and gun control. McCain made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2000 and ran for president unsuccessfully against Barack Obama in 2008.

McCain married Carol Shepp on July 3, 1965 and adopted her two young sons, Douglas and Andrew. The couple later had a daughter named Sidney. McCain met Cindy Lou Hensley in April of 1979 and convinced his current wife to grant him a divorce, which she did in April of 1980. The couple remained on good terms. McCain and Cindy Hensley married on May 17, 1980 and had four children: Meghan (1984-), John Sidney IV (1986-), James (1988), and Bridget (an abandoned Bangladeshi child who the couple adopted in 1991 at the age of 3 months).

From the guide to the Preliminary Inventory of the Representative John S. McCain Papers, 1966-1989, 1980-1989, (Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Television advertising
  • Advertising, political


  • Air pilots, Military
  • Legislators
  • Senator


  • United States, 00, US
  • Arizona, AZ, US
  • Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 00, VN
  • Canal Zone, ,