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John S. McCain, Sr. facts for kids

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John S. McCain, Sr.
Vice-Admiral John S McCain.jpg
Birth name John Sidney McCain
Nickname(s) "Slew"
Born (1884-08-09)August 9, 1884
Carroll County, Mississippi, U.S.
Died September 6, 1945(1945-09-06) (aged 61)
Coronado, California, U.S.
Place of burial
Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1906–1945
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held USS Ranger
Air Forces for Western Sea Frontier and the South Pacific Force
Bureau of Aeronautics
Second Fast Carrier Force
Task Group 38.1
Task Force 38
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
  • Pacific War
  • Guadalcanal Campaign
  • Mariana Campaign
  • Philippines Campaign
  • Battle of Okinawa
Awards Navy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)

John Sidney "Slew" McCain Sr. (August 9, 1884 – September 6, 1945) was a U.S. Navy admiral. He held several command assignments during the Pacific campaign of World War II. McCain was a pioneer of aircraft carrier operations. Serving in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II, in 1942 he commanded all land-based air operations in support of the Guadalcanal campaign, and in 1944-45 he aggressively led the Fast Carrier Task Force.

His operations off the Philippines and Okinawa and air strikes against Formosa and the Japanese home islands caused tremendous destruction of Japanese naval and air forces in the closing period of the war. He died four days after the formal Japanese surrender ceremony.

Early life, education, and family

John Sidney McCain
John Sidney McCain - US Navy Photograph from 1945 Battleship Missouri Foundation

McCain was born in Carroll County, Mississippi, the son of plantation owner John Sidney McCain (1851–1934) and wife Elizabeth-Ann Young (1855–1922), who married in 1877.

He attended the University of Mississippi for two years, where he joined the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, and then decided to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his brother William Alexander McCain was enrolled. To practice for its entrance exams, he decided to take the ones for the United States Naval Academy; when he passed those and earned an appointment, he decided to attend there instead. In doing so, he would leave behind his Mississippi plantation and adopt the Navy's itinerant life.

At the Naval Academy he failed his annual physical on account of defective hearing, but the condition was waived due to the great need for officers. When he graduated in 1906, he ranked 79th out of 116 in his class.

McCain, Sr. was married to Catherine Davey Vaulx at Colorado Springs, Colorado from 1909 until his death in 1945. They had one child.

Death and legacy

USS John S McCain (DDG-36) underway in 1969
USS John S McCain underway in 1969

McCain died on September 6, 1945 in Coronado, California from a heart attack, aged 61. His death was front-page news. McCain was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Several of McCain's descendants have also graduated from the United States Naval Academy. He and his son, Admiral John S. McCain Jr. were the first father-son pair ever to achieve four-star admiral rank in the U.S. Navy. The latter's son is sitting U.S. Senator from Arizona and 2008 Republican presidential nominee Navy Captain John S. McCain III, whose son, John S. McCain IV currently serves.

McCain Field, the operations center at Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi, was named in his honor.

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DL-3) (in service 1953–1978) was named for him, and the destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (in service 1994–present) was named for both of the Admirals John S. McCain.

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