John Sr.
United States admiral
John Sr.
John Sidney "Slew" McCain Sr. was a U.S. Navy admiral. He held several command assignments during the Pacific campaign of World War II. McCain was a pioneer of aircraft carrier operations who in 1942 commanded all land-based air operations in support of the Guadalcanal campaign, and who ultimately in 1944–1945 aggressively led the Fast Carrier Task Force, in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II.
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  • 1945
    Age 60
    He requested home leave to recuperate but Halsey insisted that he be present at the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
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    By war's end in August 1945, the stress of combat operations had worn McCain down to a weight of only 100 pounds.
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  • 1944
    Age 59
    On October 30, 1944 McCain assumed command of Task Force 38 (TF 38).
    More Details Hide Details He retained command of the fast carrier task force that he led through the Battle of Okinawa and raids on the Japanese mainland. While conducting operations off the Philippines, McCain, as Chief of Staff of Third Fleet, participated in Halsey's decision to keep the combined naval task force on station rather than avoid a major storm, Typhoon Cobra (later known also as "Halsey's Typhoon") which was approaching the area. The storm sank three destroyers and inflicted heavy damage on many other ships. Some 800 men were lost, in addition to 146 aircraft. A Navy court of inquiry found that while Halsey committed an error of judgment in sailing into the typhoon, it stopped short of unambiguously recommending sanction.
    McCain returned to combat in the Pacific in August 1944 with his appointment as commander of a carrier group in Marc Mitscher's Task Force 58 (TF 58), part of Raymond Spruance's Fifth Fleet.
    More Details Hide Details In this role, McCain participated in the Marianas campaign, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the beginning of the Philippines campaign. At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Admiral William Halsey left in pursuit of a decoy force, leaving Rear Admiral Clifton "Ziggy" Sprague's Task Unit 77.4.3 (usually referred to by its radio callsign, "Taffy 3") to continue supporting forces ashore, defended by only a light screen of destroyers and destroyer escorts. Taffy 3 came under attack from a much heavier Japanese force, under Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, provoking the Battle off Samar. Sprague promptly began to plead for assistance from Halsey who was responsible for protecting the northern approach to the landing site. Halsey had contemplated detaching a battle group, Task Force 34 (TF 34), but chose to bring all available battle-groups north to pursue the Japanese carrier force. Hearing Sprague's pleas (including messages in plain language, not even bothering to encrypt them, as the situation grew desperate), Admiral Nimitz sent Halsey a terse message, TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG FROM CINCPAC ACTION COM THIRD FLEET INFO COMINCH CTF SEVENTY-SEVEN X WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE THIRTY FOUR RR THE WORLD WONDERS. Halsey was infuriated (not recognizing the final phrase as padding, chosen for the anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade, until a communications officer shortly thereafter explained and cleared it up for him.) and sent McCain's Task Group 58.1 (TG 58.1) to assist.
  • 1943
    Age 58
    In August 1943, he became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air with the rank of vice admiral.
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  • 1941
    Age 56
    After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Navy appointed McCain as Commander, Aircraft, South Pacific in May 1942.
    More Details Hide Details As COMAIRSOPAC, he commanded all land-based Allied air operations supporting the Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands and south Pacific area. Aircraft under McCain's command, including the Cactus Air Force, located at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, were key in supporting the successful effort to defend Guadalcanal from Japanese efforts to retake the island during this time. In October 1942, the Navy ordered him to Washington, D.C. to head the Bureau of Aeronautics.
    In January 1941, after promotion to rear admiral, he commanded the Aircraft Scouting Force of the Atlantic Fleet.
    More Details Hide Details Physically short in stature and of rather thin frame, McCain was known for being gruff and very profane; he liked to drink and gamble. He also showed courage and was regarded as a natural, inspirational leader of men. In the words of one biographical profile, McCain "preferred contentious conflict to cozy compromise."
  • 1936
    Age 51
    Graduating at 52 in 1936, he became one of the oldest men to become a naval aviator and from 1937 to 1939 he commanded the aircraft carrier the.
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  • 1935
    Age 50
    In 1935, McCain enrolled in flight training.
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  • 1918
    Age 33
    McCain left the San Diego in May 1918, two months before she was sunk, when he was assigned to the Bureau of Navigation.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1920s and early 1930s, McCain served aboard the, the, and the. His first command was the USS Sirius.
  • 1915
    Age 30
    In September 1915, he joined the armored cruiser USS San Diego, flagship for the Pacific Fleet.
    More Details Hide Details With U.S. entry into World War I, McCain and San Diego served on convoy duty in the Atlantic, escorting shipping through the first dangerous leg of their passages to Europe. Based out of Tompkinsville, New York, and Halifax, the San Diego operated in the weather-torn, submarine-infested North Atlantic.
  • 1914
    Age 29
    During 1914 and 1915 he was executive officer and engineering officer aboard the armored cruiser USS Colorado, patrolling off the Pacific coast of then-troubled Mexico.
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  • 1907
    Age 22
    Soon after earning his commission, McCain sailed aboard the Great White Fleet's world cruise from 1907 to 1909, joining the battleship for the last stretch home.
    More Details Hide Details His next assignment was to the Asiatic Squadron, after which the Navy ordered him to the naval base at San Diego, California.
  • 1906
    Age 21
    At the Naval Academy, his performance was lackluster. He failed his annual physical on account of defective hearing, but the condition was waived due to the great need for officers. When he graduated in 1906, he ranked 79 out of 116 in his class, and the yearbook labeled him "The skeleton in the family closet of 1906."
    More Details Hide Details He married Catherine Davey Vaulx, who was eight years his senior (b. Fayetteville, Arkansas, January 9, 1876 - d. San Diego, California, May 29, 1959), on August 9, 1909 at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • 1884
    Born on August 9, 1884.
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