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John Sidney "Slew" McCain Sr. is Born

Today in Masonic History John Sidney "Slew" McCain Sr. is born in 1884.

John Sidney "Slew" McCain Sr. was an American naval officer.

McCain was born in Carroll, Mississippi where his father owned a plantation. He attended the University of Mississippi for two years. He intended to join his brother who was attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. To practice for the West Point entrance exams he would take the United States Naval Academy exam. He would pass and earned an appointment to the Naval Academy, which he accepted. He would have something of a lackluster performance at the Naval Academy. Due to a hearing problem he would fail his initial physical exam, the hearing issue would be waived due to the lack of naval officers. He would graduate from the academy 79 out of 116 in 1906. The yearbook would label him "The skeleton in the family closet of 1906."

McCain's first assignment was aboard the USS Connecticut which was part of the "Great White Fleet" which circumnavigated the globe on order of President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1914 and 1915, McCain would serve as the executive officer and engineering officer aboard the USS Colorado. In 1915 he would join the USS San Diego, the flagship for the Pacific Fleet. When the United States entered World War I the San Diego was ordered to the Atlantic to guard vessels in submarine troubled waters. McCain would leave the San Diego two months before it was sunk in the North Atlantic.

Between World War I and World War II, McCain served on various vessels and would receive his first command the USS Sirius. In 1935, he would enroll in flight training. He would graduate in 1936 at the age of 52 making him one of the oldest men to made a naval aviator. From 1937 to 1939 he would command the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. In 1941 he would be promoted to the rear admiral and placed in command of the Aircraft Scouting Force of the Atlantic Fleet.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, McCain was placed as Commander, Aircraft, South Pacific (COMAIRSOPAC). As COMAIRSOPAC, he would be in charge of all land based Allied air operations support Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomon Islands. In 1942, he was ordered to Washington D.C. and to head the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1943, he would become Chief of Naval Operations for Air with the rank of Vice Admiral.

McCain returned to combat in 1944 and was placed in command of a carrier group. During the Battle of Samar, Admiral William Halsey sent McCain's Task Group to aide an out numbered force. Admiral Clifton Sprague who was in command of the Group that was under attack pled for help from Halsey, toward the end over clear channels. McCain had been monitoring the communications and had already turned his Task Group around before Halsey had given the order.

By the end of the war in 1945, McCain had become frail and his weight had dropped to only 100 pounds. He requested leave to return home to recuperate. Halsey insisted that McCain be present at the Japanese surrender, so McCain remained for the official surrender. He would pass away four days later on September 6th, 1945 from a heart attack. McCain's passing was front page news.

McCain Sr. was the first of four generations to attend the United States Naval Academy including his son John S. McCain Jr., his grandson John S. McCain III (United States Senator from Arizona) and great-grandson John S. McCain the IV who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2009.

McCain was a member of Carrollton Lodge No. 36 in Carrollton, Mississippi.