ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Sen. John McCain’s final journey ended Sunday on a grassy hill at the U.S. Naval Academy within view of the Severn River and earshot of midshipmen present and future, and alongside a lifelong friend.
A horse-drawn caisson carrying the senator’s casket led a procession of mourners from the academy’s chapel to its cemetery following a private service. The senator’s widow, Cindy, and his children were among those who walked behind the caisson. Joining them were family and friends as well as members of McCain’s Class of 1958, military leaders and academy midshipmen.
About 4 p.m. a flyover of military aircraft honored the Navy pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and held more than five years as a prisoner of war. The burial was private as per the wishes of McCain, the Arizona Republican and 2008 presidential nominee died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. Vehicles that had carried mourners began leaving the area between 4:30 and 5 p.m.
One scheduled speaker at the service, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said before the service that he would tell the audience that “nobody loved a soldier more than John McCain, that I bear witness to his commitment to have their back, travel where they go, never let them be forgotten.” Also expected to pay tribute were David Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, and McCain’s son Jack.
As the hearse carrying McCain passed through a gate and into the academy, there was loud applause from the several hundred people lining the street outside on the hot and muggy summer day. Many held their hands over their hearts and waved American flags. Some shouted, “God bless you.”
People in the crowd held signs that read “Senator John McCain Thanks For Serving! Godspeed” and “Rest In Peace Maverick.”
For his final resting place, McCain picked the historic site overlooking the Severn River, not Arlington National Cemetery, where his father and grandfather, both admirals, were buried.
Years ago Chuck Larson, an admiral himself and an ally throughout McCain’s life, reserved four plots at the cemetery — two for McCain and himself, and two for their wives, now widows. Larson died in 2014, and McCain wrote in a recent memoir that he wanted to be buried next to his friend, “near where it began.”
A horse drawn caisson carries the casket containing the remains of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to his burial sight at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis Md., Sunday, Sep. 2, 2018. McCain died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Family members, including Cindy McCain, back center, follow a horse-drawn caisson that carries the casket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as it proceeds to the United States Naval Academy cemetery in Annapolis, Md., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, for burial. McCain died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A horse drawn caisson carries the casket containing the remains of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to his burial sight at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis Md., Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. McCain died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at age 81. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)