Based on one interview conducted by Dr. John T. Mason Jr. in January 1975, the volume contains 46 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendix. The transcript is copyright 1999 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.
This interview was intended as the first in a series that would cover chronologically Admiral McCain’s entire life and naval career. Unfortunately, the admiral did no further interviews after this one. It is devoted largely to the early years of his naval service, starting with his time at the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1931. Other tours he discussed included duty in the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37), as a student in Submarine School, as an instructor at the Academy, in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and as CinCPac. Sometimes he departed from the time sequence to talk about his father, who was an admiral in World War II , and his son John S. McCain III, who was a naval aviator in the Vietnam War. Some of the material in the oral history was used in a book titled Faith of My Fathers, written by the admiral’s son, Senator John McCain.
In this interview at his office in Washington, D.C., in January 1975, Admiral McCain talks about his father, a naval aviator who led the Fast Carrier Attack Force in World War II.
Admiral McCain: My father was a very — he was a great leader, first, and people loved him, and he knew how to lead. He also knew when the time came to be a strict disciplinarian, versus the time to be a more easygoing commanding officer. And he had an intense and keen sense of humor. My mother used to say about him that the blood of life flowed through his veins, he was so keenly interested in people and this sort of thing. In fact, it wasn't too long after that that he went to Pensacola and went into naval air.[***]
But he was also, amongst other things, extraordinarily well read. Now, by that I mean as a boy he had read such things as Shakespeare and all the rest of these things that they try — or did at that time, anyway, encourage young people to engage in. So also this gave to him an outstanding command of the English language, which will stand you in good stead, I can assure you, as time moves on. I don't have to tell you about the fact that he was a man of great moral and physical courage. The fact that he had the fast carrier task force under Halsey bears witness to that.[†††]
[***] The senior McCain entered flight training at Pensacola, Florida, in June 1935 and got his wings as a naval aviator in August 1936 at the age of 52.
[†††] In 1944-45, as a vice admiral, McCain commanded Task Force 38 in the Pacific under Admiral William F. Halsey Jr., USN, who commanded the Third Fleet.