Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, died on Saturday. He was 81.
McCain, who had a history of skin cancer, was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017 after a routine physical revealed a blood clot over his left eye. He had surgery to remove the clot, which doctors then determined was the result of an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma. Earlier this week, McCain decided to discontinue his cancer treatment.
His family announced his death in a statement late Saturday. Tributes poured in from both sides of the aisle, including from President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama.
McCain was born on Aug. 29, 1936, at a U.S. air base in the Panama Canal Zone. After his family moved to northern Virginia in 1951, McCain attended the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He later trained as a fighter pilot and served aboard several U.S. aircraft carriers in the 1960s.
On Oct. 26, 1967, McCain’s plane was shot down while he was flying a bombing mission over Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. The North Vietnamese held him in captivity for five and a half years, during which he was interrogated and subjected to repeated beatings. The injuries McCain sustained left him unable to raise his arms above his head. He was ultimately released on March 14, 1973, after his captors determined he was no longer of value.
McCain’s military service briefly became a flashpoint during the 2016 presidential race, after real estate mogul and then-Republican candidate Donald Trump, who never apologized, questioned his status as a war hero.
After his return and rehabilitation in the U.S., McCain served as the Navy’s liaison to the Senate in 1977. Following his separation from his first wife, Carol Shepp, he married Cindy Lou Hensley and settled in Phoenix. There, he successfully ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. Four years later, McCain was elected to the Senate, defeating his Democratic challenger by some 20 points.
The senator is survived by his wife and seven children, including popular author and national radio personality Meghan McCain.