Senator John McCain’s remarkable record of leadership and experience embodied an unwavering lifetime commitment to service.
As the son and grandson of distinguished Navy admirals, John McCain deeply valued duty, honor and service of country. John attended college at the United States Naval Academy, and launched a 22-year career as a naval aviator upon his graduation.
On July 29, 1967, John narrowly survived the first of many near-death experiences during his lifetime while preparing to take off on a bombing mission over North Vietnam from his ship, the USS Forrestal. A missile accidentally fired from a nearby plane struck the fuel tanks on his plane.
Instead of taking the option to return home after the Forrestal disaster, Senator McCain volunteered for more combat duty – a fateful decision that stopped the clock on his life and separated him from his family, and country, for five and a half years.
During his 23rd bombing mission on October 26, 1967, a missile struck his plane and forced him to eject, knocking him unconscious and breaking both his arms and his leg. John was then taken as a prisoner of war into the now infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was denied necessary medical treatment and often beaten by the North Vietnamese. He spent much of his time as a prisoner of war in solitary confinement, aided by his faith and the friendships of his fellow POWs. When he was finally released and able to return home years later, Senator McCain continued his service by regaining his naval flight status.
Senator McCain’s last Navy duty assignment was to serve as the naval liaison to the United States Senate. He retired from the Navy in 1981. His naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Senator McCain served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was elected to the United States Senate in 1986. Senator McCain served on the following Senate Committees during the 115th Congress: Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services; Member and former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; and Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Senator McCain had seven children and five grandchildren, and resided in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Cindy.
Cindy Hensley McCain has dedicated her life to improving the lives of those less fortunate both in the United States and around the world. As the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, she oversees the organization’s focus on advancing character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity.
Cindy also chairs the Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. This is an issue she cares deeply about and is committed to ending human trafficking and supporting victims in Arizona, the United States and around the world. Through her work with the McCain Institute, several partnerships have been formed with anti-trafficking organizations working on solving various aspects of the problem. She also serves as co-chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on human trafficking.
In addition to her work at the McCain Institute, she serves on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E and the Advisory Boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters. Cindy holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master’s in Special Education from USC and is a member of the USC Rossier School of Education Board of Councilors.
Cindy is the Chairman of her family’s business, Hensley Beverage Company, which is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation. Cindy is the wife of the late U.S. Senator John McCain. Together, they have four children.