Damaged USS John S. McCain Bears The Name Of Two Great Naval Admirals

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. Navy vessel at the heart of another accident bears the name of two respected admirals.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with the Alnic MC, an oil tanker several times larger than the American warship. Five sailors were injured with 10 others reported missing after the huge tanker punched a sizable hole in the side of the destroyer early Monday morning.

John Sidney McCain Senior and his son were the first father-son pair to become four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy.

John “Slew” McCain served as a prominent Navy commander in the Pacific theater during World War II, commanding all land-based air operations in support of the Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands. Later in the war, he led a carrier strike group in the Marianas campaign.

McCain was heralded as a pioneer of naval aviation who helped to shape strategy and tactics for the use of attack carriers in battles at sea by historians.

He was awarded the Navy Cross for shielding crippled cruisers from Japanese fighters, and his actions had a decisive impact on the success of the Philippines campaign. “It cost him his life later, but his work was done, and victory, which he lived to see, had come to his country,” his classmates later wrote of his naval career.

McCain, despite being physically worn out from war, lived to see Japanese officers surrender to Douglas MacArthur aboard the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. Afterwards, the admiral had lunch with his son, Jack, a decorated submarine skipper, and then he headed home to San Diego, where he died of a heart attack four days later.

He died a vice admiral, but he was posthumously promoted to the position of full admiral for his service and combat.

John “Jack” McCain, father to Arizona Senator John McCain III, commanded three different submarines during World War II, and he was awarded a silver star and bronze star for heroism.

He participated in the early stages of the Korean War, serving as the executive officer on the heavy cruiser Saint Paul.

McCain was promoted to rear admiral and became the chief of information for the Navy in the late 1950s. Later, promoted to vice admiral and named commander of the Atlantic Amphibious Training Command. In the mid-1960s, McCain became the U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

He served as the commander of naval forces in Europe, and then he was promoted to admiral and appointed to commander of all U.S. military forces in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. He retired in 1972.

McCain was a staunch advocate of American seapower. “It’s one of the most forgotten, then relearned foreign policy axioms in history. If you keep backing away because you’re afraid of what might happen to you  —  and you keep backing away and backing away  —  what you were afraid of in the first place is going to happen to you,” he warned in one speech.

The Navy is facing a troubling trend, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, who has ordered a pause on global fleet operations in the wake of the latest collision and the incident involving the USS Fitzgerald in June. The Navy will conduct a review on top of ongoing investigations to determine the root cause of the accidents.

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