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John McCain United States Obituary

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US Senator John McCain dies, aged 81

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John McCain in 2017 REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

The US senator and former presidential candidate John McCain has died at the age of 81 from brain cancer. He wass imprisoned during the Vietnam War, going on to become a Republican politician and unusuccessful presidential candidate but clashed with current President Donald Trump towards the end of his life.


Born in 1936, John McCain entered politics after returning from the Vietnam war.

His father and his paternal grandfather were both four-star navy admirals and he became a navy pilot, being shot down over Hanoi and held as a prisoner for five, being tortured and beaten during his detention.

On his release in 1973, he joined the right-wing Republican Party, being elected to the House of Representatives in 1982.

But he did not hesitate to speak out against the party, especially to denouce the influence of big money on party politics.

In 2008 he ran for president but lost to Barack Obama.

Obama tribute

The pair never resorted to animosity in opposing each other and Obama was one of the first people to react to McCain's death.

"We are all in his debt," the former leader said. "We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher -- the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed."

Trump not wanted

McCain's dealings with Donald Trump were less courteous. The two men never pretended to like each other.

McCain made it known that he did not want Donald Trump to attend his funeral.

McCain quickly grew dismayed by the billionaire businessman's nationalism and protectionism, his alleged closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin and what McCain saw as his contempt for the dignity of the office of president.

Trump, who once mocked McCain's war record, released a short statement sending his deepest sympathies and respect to McCain's family.

Spoke his mind

McCain remained an influential figure, and despite having undergone brain surgery he returned to the Senate to vote against Trump's efforts to get rid of the Obama health care reforms.

Although he returned to his Arizona home for treatment which he decided to end earlier this week, McCain never gave up hope of returning to his work in the Senate.

RFI Washington correspondent Philip Crowther, who interviewed McCain several times, remembers him as someone who spoke his mind and "didn't resort to statements released by his communications team".

"He always had a smile for journalists," Crowther comments.

Tributes for John McCain have been flooding in since the announcement of his death.

Former president George W.Bush said some lives were so vivid it was difficult to imagine them ended. He described McCain as a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order.

Former vice-president Al Gore, a Democrat, said he always admired and respected McCain because he thrived under pressure and would work to find common ground, no matter how hard.

Retired colonel Tran Trong Duyet, the former director of the Hoa Lo prison, known as the "Hanoi Hilton", recalls verbally sparring with the famous inmate and says McCain's refusal to budge on his views eventually earned his admiration.

"It was his stubbornness, his strong stance that I loved when arguing with him," he said.

John McCain, a life in dates
  • 29 August 1936: Born to naval officer John S McCain Jr and Roberta (Wright) McCain at Coco Solo Naval Air Station;
  • 1960: Completes flight school, becomes a naval pilot;
  • 1967: Shot down over North Vietnam, seriously injured and imprisoned;
  • 1973: Released by North Vietnamese;
  • 1981: Retires from the navy;
  • 1982: Elected to House of Representatives;
  • 1987: Elected to Senate;
  • 2000: Loses Republican presidential primaries to George George W Bush;
  • 2002: McCain-Feingold Act on campaign finance reform passed;
  • 2008: Wins Republican nomination in presidential election, loses to Barack Obama;
  • 2017: Diagnosed with brain cancer;
  • 25 August 2018: Dies four days before his 82nd birthday.