Aug. 25, 2018 -- U.S. Sen. John McCain -- a GOP presidential nominee, prisoner of war, and maverick politician -- died Saturday. He was 81 years old.
The longtime Arizona senator died of brain cancer complications. His family announced on Friday that McCain would stop treatment. A statement from his office said his wife, Cindy, and other famiy members were with him when he died.
"Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018. With the Senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years," read the statement.
McCain had not been seen in Washington since last Decmeber, and spent his last few months at home in Arizona.
Doctors removed the tumor and said scans show it had been completely removed. But brain tumors can also spread on a microscopic level into brain tissue. The former Naval aviator then began radiation and chemotherapy.
In his first interview after his diagnosis, McCain told the radio program The Mike Broomhead Show in August 2017 that he was hopeful.
“Fine, fine, fine, it’s a tough challenge, you know, of course,” he said. “I’m getting the best care you could possibly have, I’m eating well, I’m feeling fine, getting plenty of exercise. I expect Congress to go out here pretty soon, and I will be back in September.”
McCain’s diagnosis came at crucial time for the U.S. Senate. McCain made an impassioned speech about both parties working together to help Americans. A few days after that speech, he voted “No” on a health care bill to weaken the Affordable Care Act that he said was being pushed through the Senate.
In a news release from his office, he said, “From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people.
“The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. …”
After his cancer diagnosis, McCain showed his fighting spirit and optimism about returning to the Senate. “I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support -- unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!” he tweeted.
He also showed his funny side in a Facebook Live video in 2017, when he thanked his well-wishers. He said, “... thanks for your letters, thanks for your phone calls, thanks for your outpouring of affection, even those who want me to die, don’t want me to die right away … overall I just want to say thank you, thank you for your friendship, thank you for your loyalty, thank you for everything you’ve done for literally the luckiest guy on earth. Thank you.”
McCain, known as a lover of the outdoors, was asked a lighter question about his favorite hikes. He recommended hikers take plenty of water, and he said his favorite places to hike are around his home of Sedona, AZ, and the Grand Canyon.
McCain had lingering health complications from his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was captured on Oct. 26, 1967, and held for 5 1/2 years. While in captivity, he was tortured and beaten, suffering broken limbs and illness.
After being released, he had limited flexibility in his left knee and could not raise his arms above his shoulders.
He was also diagnosed with melanoma several times, beginning in 1993.
McCain was born Aug. 29, 1936. He attended the Naval Academy, and followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in joining the Navy, where he served until 1981. After retiring from the military, he went into politics. He represented Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives for 4 years starting in 1982, and he had served in the Senate since 1986.
He ran for president in 2008 as the Republican Party’s nominee, losing to Democrat Barack Obama, after a failed attempt to win the nomination in 2000.
McCain was married twice and had seven children total between the two marriages.
He survived dangerous situations during his Navy career. He lived through an explosion and fire that killed 134 sailors on the USS Forrestal in July 1967. He also flew into power lines while in Spain in December 1961. He even survived a water landing during flight school in March 1960.
McCain received various military awards for his service, including the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Distinguished Flying Cross.
The military long influenced his life, and he encouraged scrutiny of military spending and chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee.
McCain has showed off his comedic side, appearing on Saturday Night Live in 2002 and while running for president in 2008, joking about his age and campaign.
He was dedicated to his political career, saying in a 2015 interview with The New York Times: “Every single day is a day less that I am going to be able to serve in the Senate.”
In that same New York Times article, he said he'd already chosen an epitaph for his tombstone: “He served his country.”