Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee and a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, died on Saturday. He was 81.
McCain, who had a history of skin cancer, was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017 after a routine physical revealed a blood clot over his left eye. He had surgery to remove the clot, which doctors then determined was the result of an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma. Earlier this week, McCain decided to discontinue his cancer treatment.
The diagnosis did not immediately impede McCain from his work in the Senate, where, among other issues he was involved in, he played a major role in derailing the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He later described the disease as “very, very serious,” and said his doctors had told him he had “a very poor prognosis.”
McCain was hospitalized in December 2017 with a viral infection, his office said, and returned home to Arizona to recuperate. In April, the senator had surgery to treat an intestinal infection at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. He had reportedly been recovering at his home near Sedona with his wife, Cindy.
McCain was born on Aug. 29, 1936, at a U.S. air base in the Panama Canal Zone. After his family moved to Northern Virginia in 1951, McCain attended the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He later trained as a fighter pilot and served aboard several U.S. aircraft carriers in the 1960s.
On Oct. 26, 1967, McCain’s plane was shot down while he was flying a bombing mission over Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. The North Vietnamese held him in captivity for five and a half years, during which he was interrogated and subjected to repeated beatings. The injuries McCain sustained left him unable to raise his arms above his head. He was ultimately released on March 14, 1973, after his captors determined he was no longer of value.