Sunday, April 06, 2008


Last night after I leaned of the death of Charlton Heston I was depressed so I pull off the shelf my copy of John McCain's "family memoir" "Faith of My Fathers" and read the first couple of chapters about his father and grandfather who both were admirals in the United States Navy and both served in World War II. John McCain's grandfather John Sidney McCain commanded all land-based aircraft operations in the South Pacific during the first two months of the battle for Guadalcanal. Later McCain's grandfather was given command of one of the "fast carrier groups" in the battle against Japan. He was in command for barely two months before the campaign to liberate the Philippine Islands and the largest naval battle of World War II, the battle of Leyte Gulf. He was awarded his second Distinguished Service medal for his "gallant command" of fast carriers from October 1944 through January 1945. The citation praised his "indomitable courage" as he "led hazardous attacks." Secretary of Defense Forrestal stated this about John McCain's grandfather "His conception for the aggressive use of fast carriers as the principle instrument for bringing about the quick reduction of Japanese defensive capabilities was on of the basic forces in the evolution of naval strategy in the Pacific War." He was good friends with Admiral Bull Halsey and at the end of the war he and Halsey were ordered to appear before a court of inquiry for failure to move their ships out of the way of a typhoon. Secretary Forrestal wanted to relieve both Halsey and McCain but for the good of the Navy Bull Halsey was spared. Halsey had called John McCain's grand father "Not much more than my right arm." After being relived of command McCain's grandfather wanted to return home but Bull Halsey insisted that he attend the Japanese surrender on the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Harbor stating "your not going. You were commanding this task force when the war ended, and I'm making sure that history gets it straight." Following the surrender McCain grandfather then met his son (see picture above) on a submarine tender in Tokyo Bay. They met for a few hours and they would never see each other again. He arrived home four days latter to Coronado California. He died the next day of a heart attack at homecoming party. As John McCain's says in his book "He had fought his war and died."Halsey's chief of staff belied he had suffered an earlier heart attack at sea and had kept it hidden. He "knew his number was up, but he wouldn't lie down and die until he got home." He had worked himself to death in the defense of his country. He was 61 years old.

Eight years after his grandfathers death John McCain, seventeen years old, met Admiral Bull Halsey at the commissioning of the Navy's newest destroyer the USS John S. McCain in Bath Maine. Halsey began to talk at the commissioning about his old friend and began to sob. Later at a reception he asked the seventeen year old if he drank. John McCain lied and said no. Bull Halsey said "Well your grandfather drank bourbon and water." "Bring the boy a bourbon and water." John McCain then writes in his book, "I had a bourbon and water, with his old commander watching,and silently toasted the memory of my grandfather."