(b. Coco Solo Naval Air Station, Panama, 29 Aug. 1936)
US; Senator 1987– McCain was born into a service family (his father and grandfather were admirals) on a naval air station in the then US-owned Panama Canal Zone. He graduated from the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1958 and served as a pilot in the US Navy. He was sent to Vietnam, where his plane was shot down and he was captured, severely injured, and held as a prisoner of war from 1967 to 1973. He was tortured and held in solitary confinement by the Vietnamese. The experience left him with severely restricted movement in one arm. The Vietnamese offered to release McCain in 1968 when his father was appointed commander of US forces in the Pacific, but he refused the offer, saying that he would only accept if all other Americans captured before him were also freed. Following his release in 1973 he was welcomed home and awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross. He underwent rehabilitation and attended the National War College in Washington. He acted as the Navy's liaison to the US Senate in 1977, and retired from the Navy in 1981.
McCain was elected as a Republican from Arizona to the House of Representatives in 1982 and was re-elected in 1984. He was elected to the Senate in 1986, again for Arizona, and re-elected in 1992, 1998, and 2004. In the Senate he has served as Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs in 1995–7 and 2005–7 and as Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in 1997–2001 and 2003–5. He supported the conservative Reagan on most issues—military spending, labour legislation, gun control—but he was also considered a maverick on many issues, including advocating the restoration of diplomatic ties with Vietnam. McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, losing to George W. Bush. During Bush's subsequent presidency, McCain continued to differ from the majority Republican stance on some issues, such as seeking measures to control smoking and also saying that he would sign up to a new treaty on climate change if India and China were included, while advocating the continuation of war in Iraq until a successful conclusion was reached. He ran again for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and after a slow start to his campaign he won the nomination and made the rather surprising choice of Sarah Palin, the strident but inexperienced Governor of Alaska, as running mate. McCain lost to the Democrat candidate Barack Obama. After the election campaign he returned to the Senate.