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Erik Visits An American Grave, Part 522

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This is the grave of John McCain, Jr.

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1911 to a military family, McCain grew up traveling around the nation, following his father, who was a naval officer. Following the family tradition, he entered the Naval Academy in 1927, only 16 years old. He hated it, both in that he hated the hazing culture and actually studying. He finished 427th in his class of 441. After graduating, he wanted to fly, but had a heart murmur so was denied. Instead, he went to submarine school, where he finished 28th out of 29 in his class.

But upon serving as a sailor, McCain was commended for doing a good job in the pre-World War II Navy. He commanded a submarine in World War II, at first in the North African front, but there was little to do for the boats there, and then in the Pacific. There, he got into a prolonged battle with a Japanese fleet, where he sank a freighter. That led to the fleet dropping depth charges on the submarine and forcing it to surface. The ship should have sunk, but did not. He won a Silver Star for that.

He commanded a ship during the Korean War as well, but was becoming more useful in the Pentagon, where he became a major player in naval policy by the 1950s. He also had to spend lots of time traveling to Annapolis to deal with his son John III, who was also a terrible student who got into lots of trouble. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1958 and was sent to the Secretary of the Navy, where he became Chief Legislative Liaison of the Legislative Affairs Office, allowing the gregarious and loud McCain access to Washington elites. McCain was also a raging alcoholic, which at this time did not hurt one in Washington circles. He continued to rise. In 1963, he was promoted to vice-admiral and named commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s amphibious forces. He led the military forces in the unjust invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, which he later defended by talking publicly about scary communists. He used his growing political connections to demand a greater investment in seapower, to the point he became known as Mr. Seapower to many. McCain was buddies with Everett Dirksen. The senator had broken the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Lyndon Johnson was in debt to Dirksen. Getting McCain the promotion to full admiral was the payback.

McCain was a major figure in the escalation of the war in Vietnam and his son being shot down and taken as a POW did not change that. He was a major proponent of the domino theory and worked for constant aggression against the Vietnamese and Chinese, if possible. In 1968, Johnson named McCain Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command. When Nixon decided to bomb Cambodia, McCain was a major advisor. In fact, McCain was such an advocate for military action that Henry Kissinger wanted to keep him away from Nixon so that the president wouldn’t be persuaded to do something stupid. When Cambodian president Lon Nol suffered a stroke, he recuperated at McCain’s house in Honolulu. He was eventually relieved of his command in the Pacific in 1972, despite pleading with Nixon to let him continue. Throughout the war, he never wavered in his belief that the U.S. was not using enough bombs and aggressive military tactics to kill enough communists.

After the war, McCain became a military advisor to Ronald Reagan. He was outraged at the return of the Panama Canal to Panama, seeing it as an entrypoint for Soviet domination of the Western Hemisphere. The extent to which Panama was a major issue in late 70s American politics is hard to wrap one’s head around because the rhetoric was so overheated, so ridiculously over-the-top, and so belied by the fact that nothing negative happened at all in the aftermath. But when did that ever stop warmongers from demanding more military action? But overall, McCain’s last years weren’t great. He didn’t want to retire from the Navy and when he was forced to, his already massive binge drinking issues just got worse. He died of a heart attack in 1981.

Of course, we primarily know McCain today for the raging asshole of a son he spawned and now for his equally repulsive granddaughter, carnival-barker of daytime television and the wife of a fascist publisher.

John McCain, Jr., is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

If you would like this series to visit the fathers of other assholes, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Fred Trump is in Queens while Dick Cheney’s father is in Evansville, Wyoming. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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