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  • The Awards of Admiral John McCain who Orchestrated Guadalcanal

    Admiral John McCain Sr., Grandfather of John McCain III, Republican Candidate for President during the 2008 elections, was one of the most important admirals in American naval aviation in the Pacific during World War II. John McCain was born on August 9, 1884 on his family’s plantation in Mississippi. He came from a military family where it was custom for the first born to take over the plantation and for the second born to enlist. McCain was the third born and had no obligation to join but felt compelled to follow in his brother’s footsteps. In 1906 he graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis as an Ensign, ranking 79th out of 116 students. He was not the most competent student but throughout his career proved that he was indeed a natural leader. He began his service in the Pacific Fleet and on escort vessels in the Atlantic during the First World War. In 1929 he graduated from the Naval War College, and a little later from Flight Instruction School at Pensacola. He was awarded his Naval Aviator Wings at the age of 52, making him the oldest man to achieve the status.

    After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, McCain, who meanwhile had been promoted to Rear Admiral, became commander in chief of land-based naval aviation in the South Pacific. In 1943 he became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, Responsible for air operations of the United States Navy. He returned to the Pacific in 1944 and took command of the 2nd Fast Carrier Task Force and a little later Task Force 38 of the US 3rd Fleet with nine fleet aircraft carriers and eight light aircraft carriers. Because of his successful tactics in July/August 1944, he was able to destroy 3000 Japanese aircraft on the ground, and with a few days sink 49 ships. He was awarded the Navy Cross for the rescue of the heavily damaged cruisers "USS Canberra" and "USS Houston" from sinking by the Japanese in October 1944. On 2 September 1945 he was on board the "USS Missouri" at the Japanese surrender. Importantly, 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.

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