John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is an American politician. Considered a maverick Republican, McCain has been a U.S. Senator from Arizona since 1987, winning re-election in 1992, 1998, and 2004. He was a presidential candidate in the 2000 election, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by then-Texas Governor and now President George W. Bush.
McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the son and grandson of prominent U.S. Navy admirals (John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr.). He attended Episcopal High School and graduated in 1954. McCain then followed in his fathers' footsteps to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1958.
A naval aviator, John McCain was stationed aboard the great USS Forrestal where, on July 29, 1967, he escaped death when a missile accidentally launched across the ship, striking John McCain's A-4 Skyhawk. The impact ruptured the fuel tank on McCain's aircraft, the leaking fuel of which ignited, and knocked a bomb into the fire. John McCain escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down to the nose of the plane, and jumping off the nose boom. A minute and a half after the impact, the bomb exploded underneath McCain's plane, starting a major fire which killed 134 sailors and nearly threatened to destroy the ship.
Video tape shot aboard the Forrestal shows McCain narrowly escaping the explosion.
Later in 1967, he was shot down over Vietnam, and was held as a prisoner of war in Hanoi for five-and-a-half years. When his captors discovered he was the son and grandson of admirals, he was offered a chance to go home, but he refused to break the military code that POWs are released in the order that they are captured.
He was finally released from captivity in 1973, having survived the injuries he received when he was shot down, the beatings from an angry crowd and his captors, a year of torture, and two years of solitary confinement. Once released, his POW injuries prevented him from receiving a sea command, so in 1977, he became a Navy's liaison to the Senate. He was discharged from the Navy in 1981 as a Captain, on the day he watched his father buried next to his grandfather, in Arlington National Cemetery. During his military career he received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Flying Cross. Deciding years later to not live with hatred in his heart, he forgave his captors for his treatment.
McCain was elected as an Arizona representative to the United States House of Representatives in 1982. In 1986, upon Barry Goldwater's retirement, he was elected to the United States Senate, partially financed by Charles Keating, who had also contributed to his House campaigns. McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal may have led to his later support of campaign finance reform.
McCain is the adoptive father of a Bangladeshi child.