The Vietnam War hero, maverick senator and two-time presidential candidate was bid farewell in a private ceremony beside the Severn River by his closest family members and friends, along with military dignitaries and members of his academy Class of 1958.
The Arizona senator’s final resting place is the cemetery near the fields and classrooms where he and his friend, Admiral Chuck Larson, met as young men six decades ago. The senator died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81.
A non-conformist to the end, McCain chose to be buried at the academy instead of Arlington National Cemetery with his father and grandfather, both Naval admirals.
“I want to smell the rose-scented breeze and feel the sun on my shoulders,” McCain wrote in his May memoir. “I want to watch the hawks hunt from the sycamore, and then take my leave bound for a place near my old friend Chuck Larson, in the cemetery on the Severn, back where it began.”
Larson and McCain were Naval Academy roommates; Larson, who died in 2014, is a former academy superintendent who had reserved four burial plots for himself, McCain and their spouses.
Modal TriggerBefore the burial, McCain’s widow, Cindy, his sons Jack and Don, daughter Meghan and his 106-year-old mother, Roberta, joined mourners at a memorial service at the academy’s chapel.
In attendance were former CIA director and Army General David Petraeus and Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), a long-time political ally and one of McCain’s closest friends. “Nobody loved a soldier more than John McCain,” Graham earlier said he planned to tell mourners at the chapel.
“There’s a lesson to be learned this week about John McCain,” Graham told “Fox News Sunday.”
“Number one, Americans appreciate military service … If you work hard and do your homework and know what you’re talking about, people will listen to you. That if you pick big causes bigger than yourself, you’ll be remembered,” he said. “He tried to drain the swamp before it was cool, that you can fight hard and still be respected. If you forgive, people appreciate it, and if you admit to mistakes, you look good as a stronger man. “Why do we remember this man? Because of the way he conducted his public life.”
“I bear witness to his commitment to have their back, travel where they go, never let them be forgotten,” Graham added. “The public may be tired of this war called the war on terrorism, but John McCain never was. And he had their back and he gave them what they need to win a fight we can’t afford to lose.”
Following the service, the senator’s casket was carried in a horse-drawn caisson from the academy’s chapel to its cemetery, with McCain’s widow, Cindy, and children among those following it on foot.
At about 4 p.m., a flyover of military aircraft honored the former Navy pilot. The aircraft flew in what is called a “missing man formation,” in which one aircraft abruptly veers away, in honor of McCain’s military service.