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Sen. John McCain Remembered as Ardent Supporter of Homeland Defenders

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) was remembered by military leaders as a war hero who worked tirelessly for active-duty service members, veterans, military families and wounded warriors over a decades-long career of service.

McCain, 81, died Saturday at his home in Sedona, Ariz., after a 13-month battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“Senator McCain exemplified what it means to be a warrior and dedicated public servant. Both as a naval officer and as a member of Congress, he was a lifelong and tireless advocate for the men and women of the U.S. military,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford in a statement issued by the Pentagon.

“He traveled the world to meet personally with soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, to hear what they had to say, and to see firsthand our military in action on the front lines. Senator McCain recognized the sacrifice and hardships military members and their families can experience and proudly served as their champion in Congress,” Dunford added. “He visited our nation’s wounded warriors around the country to offer encouragement and to thank them for their service. Through his tenacious and selfless leadership in the Senate, he fought hard to ensure our Armed Forces remained strong and had the support and resources needed to succeed when placed in harm’s way.”

“While we mourn Senator McCain’s passing, we are eternally grateful for his distinguished service to our nation, his advocacy of the U.S. military, and the incredible example he set for us all.”

McCain, a 1958 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and naval pilot, was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967. He suffered years of torture until his release in 1973. He retired from the Navy in 1981 and successfully ran for the House of Representatives in 1982.

“As a Naval Officer and defiant prisoner of war, John McCain stood with his brothers-in-arms until they returned home together,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement. “Passionately committed to our country, Senator McCain always put service to the Nation before self. He recognized that for our experiment in democracy to long endure, people of action and passion must serve. In this he represented what he believed, that ‘a shared purpose does not claim our identity—on the contrary, it enlarges your sense of self.'”

“His was a life well lived, one whose actions epitomized the motto of his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy: non sibi, sed patriae—’not for self, but for country,'” Mattis added.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the McCain family. We are profoundly thankful for the life and example of Senator McCain,” tweeted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “He will live on forever through his legacy, and in the hearts of Americans grateful for his defense of our nation and freedom itself.”

Tweeted Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, “America lost a proud veteran and inspirational leader. Senator McCain, Thank you for years of support for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. To the McCain family, please accept the condolences of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

“We have lost a great leader of our Nation. Sen. McCain, thank you for your commitment, drive and relentless pursuit to make our military better. We have the watch and will drive on to protect the Nation. To the McCain family, our sympathies & your Marines are here for you,” tweeted Marine Corps commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

“This American hero was an extraordinary supporter of our Soldiers, Families, and Veterans,” tweeted Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “A great supporter of the US Army whose leadership will be missed, but his legacy will live on. Thank you for all you have done for all of us in uniform.”

The Navy acutely felt the loss of one of their own. “The nation has lost a great patriot and warrior. Whenever we were in a tough spot, we knew Senator McCain would be on our side with his characteristic toughness and integrity. The U.S. Navy mourns the loss of a true shipmate,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “Our prayers go with him and to his family, that they find consolation. May Senator John McCain, who never flinched from a worthy fight, rest in a well-deserved peace.”

McCain’s body will lie in state at the Capitol before his full-dress funeral at the National Cathedral, at which former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will be delivering eulogies. He will be buried at the Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis next to Adm. Chuck Larson, his academy classmate and longtime friend who led U.S. Pacific Command and was superintendent of the Naval Academy. Larson passed away in 2014.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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