On September 1, 1972, RN spoke at the retirement ceremony of Admiral John S. McCain II , Commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific and father of future Arizona Senator and then Vietnam War POW John S. McCain III.
Speaking without notes at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, RN noted that the McCain family’s sacrifice symbolized Americans’ resolve to end the Vietnam War, protect the homeland, and bring the nation’s troops home with honor.
“In the story of the McCalns we see the greatness of America,” RN said, “We see men who have devoted their lives to this country to keep it strong so that America could be free and so that America could play its role of being the guardian of peace in the world.”
Mr. Secretary of State, Governor Burns, Senator Fong, Congressman Matsunaga, Admiral Moorer, Admiral McCain, Admiral Gayler, all of the distinguished guests, and all of you who are here on this memorable occasion:
It is for me a very great honor to be here, to be here in my capacity as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but also representing all of the American people, to pay respects to one of the great families of a proud Navy tradition, the McCains: John McCain, Commander of the Second Carrier Task Force and Task Force 38; Admiral McCain, Jr., who has just received his second Distinguished Service Citation and has completed 4 years of outstanding service as Commander in Chief of our Pacific Forces, one who has served in World War II, in Korea, and in Vietnam; and his son, John McCaln III, a splendid Naval aviator who has been a prisoner of war in Vietnam for the past 5 years.
In the story of the McCalns we see the greatness of America. We see service to this country. We see men who have devoted their lives to this country to keep it strong so that America could be free and so that America could play its role of being the guardian of peace in the world.
When we think of America’s role in this century, the wars in which we have fought, it is a record which no American need be ashamed of, and which every American ought to be proud of: World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. We have not asked for anything in the way of conquest. We have gone to defend freedom, not to destroy it. We have tried to keep the peace rather than to break it. And when the war is concluded, we have been generous to those who have been our enemies.