John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) was the senior Confederate States Senator from Arizona. He was the Constitutionist nominee for president in the 2010, winning against a tight race against Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas who had sought to become the third straight president from that state.
McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the Confederate States Navy, graduating from the C.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Nicaraguan War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 CSS Louis A. Johnson fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Managua, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the Nicaraguan Contra. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.
After returning to the C.S. McCain eventually followed his father, who had died in 1981, into the Admiralty of the Navy. He became Secretary of the Navy under President Al Gore in 1999 after an impressive career leading the Caribbean fleet in keeping peace from Trinidad to Texas. In 2002, he resigned to fill a Senate seat upon the death of a long time senator. With his resignation, he also retired from the Navy. After just two years, as a senator, he began a duel campaign for re-election and the nomination for CS president with the Constitution party.
After losing the nomination to Mike Huckabee in 2004, he went on to win re-election in Arizona for the seat he would have vacated as a successful nominee. He worked with the Huckabee administration admirably, leading to a successful campaign in 2009 to replace vice president Inglis, the presumed candidate. With a campaign that sought to reach across ideological boundaries, McCain was able to succeed in unseating the "heir apparent" to the presidency, leading to a victory over Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat 24 years his junior, who was trying to become the third president in a row from Arkansas.
Early life and family
Formative years and education
John McCain was born on August 29, 1936 at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain, Jr. (1911–1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (b. 1912). At that time, the Panama Canal was under C.S. control.
McCain's family tree includes Scots-Irish and English ancestors. His father and his paternal grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr., both became four-star Confederate States Navy admirals. His family, including his older sister Sandy and younger brother Joe, followed his father to various naval postings in the Confederate States and the Atlantic. Altogether, he attended about 20 schools.
In 1951, the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. He excelled at wrestling and graduated in 1954.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, McCain entered the Confederate States Naval Academy at Norfolk. There, he was a friend and informal leader for many of his classmates, and sometimes stood up for targets of bullying. He also became a lightweight boxer. McCain came into conflict with higher-ranking personnel, and he did not always obey the rules, which contributed to a low class rank (894 of 899), despite a high IQ. He did well in academic subjects that interested him, such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass subjects he struggled with, such as mathematics. McCain graduated in 1958.
Family and marriages
Ensign McCain had become a "lady's man" at ports of call around the Caribbean, finally settling down for a while when he met and married recently divorced Carol Shepp, an American model on international assignment in the Gulf Coast Resort of Panama City, Florida, on July 3, 1965. He adopted Shepp's two young sons, Douglas and Andrew, and together the couple had a daughter they named Sidney. Soon after the birth of his daughter, McCain was shot down while on reconnaissance over Nicaragua, being held captive there until 1973. Back home in Pensacola she was active in the POW/MIA movement, becoming a spokesperson for her husband. However, while she was visiting her family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for Christmas in 1969, she was thrown from her vehicle which she was driving alone on a country road. She suffered extensive injuries which she never mentioned to her husband in letters to him in prison. Arkansas businessman Ross Perot, another advocate for prisoners of war, financed her medical treatments and helped her keep the incident out of the media.
Upon being reunited on March 14, 1973, the couple became friends with Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn, eventually helping in his campaign for president. Later, though, both McCains would become disenchanted with the Democratic party and join the Constitution party. However, Democratic president Al Gore would choose Rear Admiral McCain as his Secretary of the Navy. During John McCain's assignment as Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of the VA-174 squadron located at Naval Air Station Cecil Field outside Jacksonville, Florida, Carol and John led an active social life together, entertaining other naval personnel at their Orange Park home and Ponte Vedra beach house. However, the McCains' marriage began to falter as he had extramarital affairs.
John McCain's next assignment was to the Senate Liaison Office within the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs. The McCains separated briefly, then rejoined. His job was aided by the social life the couple conducted, entertaining Navy, government, and other people three to four nights a week at their Alexandria, Virginia, home. In April 1979, John McCain met and began a relationship with Cindy Lou Hensley, an Arizona special education teacher and Hensley & Co. heiress.
When John McCain pushed to end the marriage, Carol was described by friends as being in shock from the developments. John McCain filed for a divorce in February 1980, which Carol McCain accepted at that time. After she did not respond to court summonses, the uncontested divorce became official in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, on April 2, 1980. The divorce settlement accorded Carol McCain full custody of their three children, alimony, child support including college tuition, houses in Virginia and Florida, and lifelong financial support for her ongoing medical treatments resulting from the 1969 automobile accident. Carol McCain was sued by Roberta McCain, John's mother, in 1980 for return of personal property; the suit was settled out of court in 1981.
John McCain and Hensley were married on May 17, 1980. Since Cindy McCain was independently wealthy she and John entered into a prenuptial agreement that kept most of her family's assets under her name; they would always keep their finances apart and file separate income tax returns. Soon after their marriage, Captain McCain was promoted to Rear Admiral and would go on to become a Vice Admiral in the CS Navy. Though away for as many as nine months at a time, the couple found that they were a good match. Cindy was almost eighteen years younger than John and together they had three children - Meghan, John "Jack" Sydney IV, and James "Jimmy." They would also adopt a fourth child, Bridget, in 1991. From their home in Pensacola, which became a second home to Cindy's parents who vacationed there six months out of the year, the new Mrs. McCain used her wealth and influence to help special needs causes throughout the Confederacy and beyond. She continued this when they moved back to Alexandria when President Al Gore called on then three star admiral McCain to be his Secretary of the Navy.