John McCain dies aged 81 surrounded by his family after cancer battle

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain

Cindy McCain, the senator's wife of 38 years, expressed her grief on Twitter.

However, he also gained a reputation as a Republican maverick who was willing to cross party lines on a range of issues.

McCain's wife, Cindy, thanked everyone saying, that their entire family "is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from around the world".

McCain discontinued medical treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer, his family said Friday, likely indicating the war hero, presidential nominee and longtime leading lawmaker was nearing the end of his life.

"I just said, 'I understand, '" he said during a "60 Minutes" interview.

Within an hour of his office's announcement that McCain had died, tributes began pouring in from his Senate colleagues, recollections that not only reflected on the late Senator's career, but touched on what he meant to them personally. A titan in U.S. politics, he was respected as a war hero. Regardless of your political stance, one thing is not debatable: John McCain is an American hero. He was my friend and mentor, and I will never forget him. Trump in August notably neglected to mention McCain's name when signing a $716 billion defense policy bill named for the Senator - continuing a years long feud that dates to Trump's campaign rallies during the 2016 election.

Indeed, Mr. McCain, who cast the decisive Senate vote to preserve the Obamacare healthcare program, was especially critical of Donald J. Trump. "So I spend my time in gratitude and work as hard as I can to get done what I can get done while I can".

That debate continues after Senator McCain's passing, with one of the most powerful and passionate voices for American global leadership silenced, amid great uncertainty as to who in the US Congress will advance his legacy and the case of American internationalism. The world will miss John McCain. He became Arizona's senior senator in 1995 and chairman of the influential Armed Services Committee in 2015. In 2008, he won the Republican nomination, only to see his hopes dashed by the phenomenon that was Barack Obama and a crumbling USA economy. He was praised by the political establishment for his pathfinding work to overhaul the campaign system but criticized for the sloppiness of his preparation in selecting Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.

The son of a US admiral, McCain became a Navy aviator and flew bombing missions during the Vietnam War. He landed in a lake in the corner of the capital of North Vietnam, he said in recalling the incident. He was severely injured and spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. Both of his arms and his knee were broken, and McCain was knocked unconscious and taken as a prisoner of war. He was finally released in 1973 and continued serving in the Navy until 1981.

But long before then, McCain was a Navy brat who had little interest in being studious. His honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. "Like so many of us, he was not born here, but his spirit, service and fierce independence shaped the state with which he became synonymous".

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