Tom Tingle-USA TODAY Sports

Senator John S. McCain—His Leadership Lives On

August 27, 2018 - 11:14 am

By Scott A. Huesing  Special to

I sat in Dodger’s Stadium Saturday night when the news of McCain’s death was announced. The entire crowd held a moment of silence. I left the ballpark that night and headed to my home in southern California. The electronic billboard on Interstate 5 Freeway read, “Remembering U.S. Senator John McCain.” It was only a couple hours after his death.

My first thought was, “I wonder how many billboards are lit up along the highways in Arizona tonight?”

I didn’t know John McCain. I don’t have any military stories or brief encounters of him shaking my hand at a base visit. I never went to any of his political rallies. 

I assume many Americans feel a level of sadness at the loss of Senator John McCain after he died fighting his last battle—a battle he knew he’d ultimately lose after winning so many. The sorrow of our Nation should be transformed to that of pride. A pride that John McCain was a warrior, one who fought for his country, bled, served, and led for decades.

McCain starred death in the face throughout his life and persevered—actually won in most cases. He did it when his U.S. Navy A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam and then for over 2,000 days not knowing if each would be his last as an enemy prisoner of war. That’s over five and a half years in case you’re wondering. 

John McCain has left us, but his legacy and the impact he made on so many people and this country throughout his career will persevere long after his death.  His leadership remains in those he taught. His words read in the books he authored.

Our nation grows continually more polarized in the political area. I’m not shocked that even in the wake of McCain’s death, many still try to diminish the tremendous accomplishments that McCain left us.  That is was saddens me.

McCain’s career is so long that it would be exhaustive to mention even cursorily. It is easy to be impressed that he fought for his country as a Naval Aviator and was awarded the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. That he served as a U.S. Senator—and that he ran for President of the United States. 

What’s most impressive is that he cared.

It’s easy for most who don’t hold the mantle of responsibility to attack those who lead a life of leadership and caring—always trying to drag them down. Proudly, McCain always stayed on his feet. He said it best in an interview with Chris Wallace (Fox News, 2007) that he was, “An imperfect person who was proud to serve.” 

When the good that someone does far outweighs the bad, I think ultimately that has to be one metric of how to measure a good life. Looking back on the resume Senator John S. McCain built—his family and our country can be proud of the job he did for those he served. Semper Fi, warrior.


Major Scott A. Huesing USMC (Ret) is the bestselling author of Echo in Ramadi – The Firsthand Story of U.S. Marines in Iraq’s Deadliest City(Regnery, 2018). He is a proven combat leader with 10 deployments over his career to include Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. He has planned, led, and conducted hundreds of combat missions.