John S. McCain, Jr.



Commander in chief of Pacific naval forces (1968-72), John S. McCain, Jr. was the youngest son of another full admiral. He was born on January 17, 1911, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and grew up in Washington, D.C., where he attended Central High School. After high school, he entered the United States Naval Academy at the young age of sixteen. In 1931, he graduated from Annapolis almost at the bottom of his class.

McCain's first tour of duty was on the battleship Oklahoma, and he afterward served on submarines between 1933 and 1938. After his time on submarines, he became an instructor of electrical engineering at the Naval Academy. With the outbreak of World War II, McCain entered combat aboard the USS Skipjack, a submarine, and then commanded submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific. After the war, he became records director of the Bureau of Naval Personnel until 1949.

During the 1950s, McCain successfully served aboard the USS St. Paul as its executive officer. His next assignments followed in succession: director of navy undersea warfare research and development; commander of Submarine Squadron 6; commander of the attack transport USS Monrovia; director of progress analysis in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; commanding officer of the USS Albany; and chief of legislative liaison for the secretary of the navy. McCain was promoted to rear admiral in 1959 and to vice admiral four years later.

During the early 1960s, McCain was part of the Atlantic Fleet's amphibious command, ultimately rising to its entire command in 1965. Admiral McCain took part in the U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965. He finally succeeded retiring Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp as commander in chief, Pacific Command on July 31, 1968. McCain was a hard-liner on the Vietnam War and believed that the Communists were using the Vietnamese conflict to further their expansionist plans. In the fall of 1972, it was McCain who recommended that President Nixon take strong measures against North Vietnam. He supported the resumption of bombing as well as the mining of Haiphong Harbor to bring the North Vietnamese to the conference table. Before 1972, McCain was a firm and vocal proponent of the Nixon administration's Vietnamization program. Yet by the autumn of 1972, McCain was tired of his longtime service to the country and thus decided to return to the Naval Academy as an instructor of electrical engineering. He retired in 1972 and died on March 22, 1981.


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