Although not a new book (Copyright 1999) Senator John McCain’s Faith of my Fathers is an excellent book! I’ve read it before, but because Senator McCain may be the Republican Party candidate for President in 2008, I decided to reread it again. I wasn’t disappointed!
John McCain’s grandfather and father were both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. Each man had a very distinguished career, so it only seemed natural John McCain would follow in their footsteps. Senator McCain admits he was a hell-raiser both in high school and at the Naval Academy. In some of the book’s early chapters McCain describes in detail his rowdy days at the Academy, but he also eventually admits that going to the Academy changed his life, and him, forever.
There is an excellent account of the tragic fire aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal on the morning of July 29, 1967, as the carrier prepared to launch its aircraft, which included thirty-one-year-old A-4 pilot John McCain. The carrier was at Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf. That horrendous fire, which almost sank the carrier, also almost killed John McCain and his detailed description of that day is very dramatic and revealing. After the fire on the Forrestal McCain volunteered to join another A-4 squadron onboard the U.S.S. Oriskany
. I found many of John McCain’s observations, opinions and comments to be very candid (and maybe even timely too). For example: reference the way Washington bureaucrats sometimes fought the Vietnam War, he said the pilots thought their civilian commanders were idiots who didn't have a clue of what it really would take to win the war they were fighting.
On October 26, 1967, during his twenty-third mission over North Vietnam, but only his first mission over Hanoi, McCain’s plane was hit by a missile and he had to eject. This wasn’t the first time he had ejected, and it happened one other time when his jet had a flameout as he was preparing to land. This had been back in the United States, but this time he was over Hanoi. During the ejection McCain was injured very badly and he was captured almost immediately once he was on the ground (he actually landed in a small lake). John McCain’s description of how he was treated while a prisoner of North Vietnam almost made me cry. The North Vietnamese were cruel and barbaric in their treatment of McCain, and of all the P.O.W.s they had captured. McCain admits he may have, at times,been treated a little better than some of the other P.O.W.s and this was probably due to the fact his father was a high-ranking admiral. The North Vietnamese even tried to release McCain early, undoubtedly for propaganda purposes, and not because they were finally being humane, but to McCain’s credit, he refused. Wow! I can’t say that I would do that under similar circumstances, but McCain is an honorable man and according to the Code military men and women are obligated to follow, it was the right thing for him to do.
Even though John McCain is now a politician, this is NOT a book about politics. This book is about the man, and the things that happened to him, and the experiences he had, that made him what he is today. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it!