TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 29: U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC, which is scheduled to conclude August 30. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

John McCain: The Life of a Maverick, in Photos

The Vietnam War hero and iconic U.S. politician has died.

John McCain, a Vietnam War hero who went on to become one of the most influential figures in modern American politics, died at home in Arizona on Saturday. He was 81. Known for his independence and willingness to break from the Republican party on key issues — which earned him the nickname "The Maverick" — McCain had served the state of Arizona as a U.S. Senator since 1987 and twice ran for the presidency, winning the GOP nomination in 2008. Widely respected by peers for his courage during the war, in which he spent more than five years as a prisoner in Vietnam, he was frequently praised (and sometimes derided) for his across-the-aisle votes through the years; in recent years he clashed frequently President Donald J. Trump over such policies as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. McCain often cited his dedication to doing whatever he felt was right for those he served: "I don't work for a party," he once said. "I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you."

Future US Senator John S. McCain III (R-AZ) (C) as a young boy with his grandfather Vice Admiral John S. McCain Sr. (1884 - 1945) (L) and father Commander (late admiral) John S. McCain Jr. (1911 - 1981) in family photo, 1940s. (Photo by Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images) Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images AS A BOY He was born John Sidney McCain III (center) on August 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone. Even then he seemed destined for a life of service — specifically, in the Navy: His grandfather (at left) and father (far right) both attained the rank of admiral in that military branch. Portrait of American Navy Lieutenant (and future US Senator) John Sidney McCain III in uniform, 1964. (Photo by US Navy/Interim Archives/Getty Images) Interim Archives/Getty Images MILITARY MAN McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958. A pilot, he began combat duty in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1967. That year he survived a fire and bombing of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Forrestal, taking shrapnel in the legs and chest. (Above: a portrait of McCain from 1964.)

More Stories From FOTO

HANOI, VIET NAM: A photo taken 26 October 1967 shows US Navy Airforce Major John McCain (C) being rescued from Hanoi's Truc Bach lake by several Hanoi residents after his Navy warplane was downed by Northern Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. One of his rescuers said 24 February 2000, McCain was well treated after being pulled from the lake by villagers. McCain said that upon capture he was beaten by an angry mob and bayoneted in the groin. (B/W ONLY) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images) -/AFP/Getty Images SHOT DOWN OVER HANOI On October 26, 1967, McCain — then a father of three young children, with first wife Carol Shepp — was on a bombing mission when his plane was shot down. After ejecting himself from the aircraft, he parachuted into Truc Bach Lake, where he was rescued by residents (pictured) but then transported to the prison informally known as the "Hanoi Hilton." HANOI, VIET NAM: This file picture taken in 1967 shows US Navy Airforce Major John McCain lying on a bed in a Hanoi hospital as he was being given medical care for his injuries. John McCain, a current US presidential hopeful, was captured in 1967 at a lake in Hanoi after his Navy warplane was downed by the Northern Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. One of his rescuers said 24 February 2000, McCain was well treated after being pulled from the lake by villagers. McCain said that upon capture he was beaten by an angry mob and bayoneted in the groin. (B/W ONLY) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images) -/AFP/Getty Images STRONG, SILENT Over the five and a half years he spent as a prisoner of war, McCain was beaten and tortured, with his captors demanding anti-U.S. statements that he regularly refused to give. He was even offered release, after his father, John S. McCain Jr., became commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, but he would not accept preferential treatment, opting instead to abide by military code of conduct against receiving special favors from the enemy. HANOI, VIET NAM: A photo taken in 1967 shows US Navy Airforce Major John McCain being examined by a Vietnamese doctor. John McCain, current US presidential hopeful, was captured in 1967 at a lake in Hanoi after his Navy warplane was been downed by Northern Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. One of his rescuers said 24 February 2000, McCain was well treated after being pulled from the lake by villagers. McCain said that upon capture he was beaten by an angry mob and bayoneted in the groin. (B/W ONLY) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images) -/AFP/Getty Images UNBROKEN Another photo from McCain's time as a prisoner, 1967. At a pre-dinner reception, US President Richard Nixon (1913 - 1994) shakes hands greets former North Vietnamese prisoner of war (and future US Senator) Captain John McCain, Washington DC, May 24, 1973. (Photo by White House Photo Office/PhotoQuest/Getty Images) PhotoQuest/Getty Images HOME, A HERO McCain was released on March 14, 1973. Here he is two months later, shaking hands with President Nixon. After returning to the U.S. he underwent intense physical therapy, and by 1977, after winning commendations for his work improving a training squadron, he became the Navy's liaison to Congress. UNITED STATES - JULY 31: Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gets a kiss from his wife, Cindy, as they kick off his campaign in Greenville, S.C. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images) New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images McCAIN THE POLITICIAN In 1980, after divorcing his first wife, McCain married Cindy Lou Hensley, 18 years his junior. After his 1981 retirement from the Navy, having achieved the rank of captain, he moved to her home state of Arizona. They'd go on to have four children together. Pictured: John and Cindy McCain on the presidential campaign trail in 1999. Vice President George H.W. Bush (R), re-enacting Senate Swear- In with Sen. John S. McCain and his family. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images) Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images THE SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF ARIZONA McCain won election to the U.S. Senate in 1986, filling the seat vacated by retired Republican icon Barry Goldwater. Pictured: With his wife Cindy and their kids Meghan and Jack looking on, McCain is sworn in by Vice President George H.W. Bush. UNITED STATES - MAY 18: MCCAIN'S DAY--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to his scheduler on the speaker phone in the late afternoon. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images) Scott J. Ferrell/CQ-Roll Call,Inc. AT WORK McCain in his Senate office, 1998. N361918 10: Presidential candidate John McCain with wife Cindy in their home in Phoenix, Arizona with their children. The oldest daughter is Meghan, their adopted daughter is Bridgette and their two sons Jack and Jimmy, October 14, 1999. (photo by Karin Cooper) Karin Cooper/Getty Images GROWING FAMILY John and Cindy had a total of four children together: Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, and Bridget, a girl they adopted from Bangladesh. Here, a scene of the family at home in Phoenix in October 1999, a month before announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. He was the biggest challenger to the well-funded George W. Bush, and even pulled off an upset in New Hampshire before conceding defeat after Super Tuesday. CENTRAL POINT, OR - OCTOBER 14: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) shakes hands with U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) at a Victory 2004 rally at the Jackson County Fairgrounds October 14, 2004 in Central Point, Oregon. Senator McCain has been on the campaign trail with President Bush the past few days. Bush met Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry for their third and final debate in Tempe, Arizona last night. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) Mario Tama/Getty Images CAMPAIGNING WITH BUSH, 2004 At a rally in Oregon for then-President George W. Bush in 2004, the former rivals shake hands. For some time there was talk that McCain would be offered the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket, running with fellow Vietnam veteran John Kerry, but ultimately he supported Bush's reelection bid. NASHUA, NH - JANUARY 8: In his suite at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Republican Presidential contender Senator John McCain hugs his daughter Meghan McCain, with his wife Cindy McCain behind them, after hearing that he was the projected winner of the Republican New Hampshire Primary, on January 8, 2008 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images) David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images A WINNING MOMENT He decided to run for the presidency again after Bush left office. Here he is in January 2008, with wife Cindy and daughter Meghan, after hearing that he was the projected winner of the Republican New Hampshire primary. ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 04: Republican U.S presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during day four of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center on September 4, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will accept the GOP nomination for U.S. President Thursday night. The Senator was joined on stage by his running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and his wife Cindy McCain. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images) Charles Ommanney/Getty Images FINALLY, THE NOMINEE McCain became the GOP's candidate for president that summer, facing off against Barack Obama. He chose as his running mate Sarah Palin, the relatively untested governor of Alaska — a pick that proved to be controversial at the time and which a decade later McCain said he regretted. Pictured: McCain and Palin at the Republican National Convention, September 2008. PHOENIX - NOVEMBER 04: Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) concedes victory on stage during the election night rally at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa on November 4, 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) defeated McCain by a wide margin in the election to become the first African-American U.S. President elect. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Mark Wilson/Getty Images GRACE IN DEFEAT "America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time," McCain said of Barack Obama's win in his concession speech. "There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth." US President-elect Barack Obama (R) meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama's transition offices in Chicago on November 17, 2008. They are meeting for the first time since the election was held 13 days ago. The meeting in Chicago between the victor of the November 4 election and the Arizona senator put substance to Obama's promise of reaching out to old opponents as he crafts an expansive agenda for the next four years. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images WORKING TOGETHER McCain meets with the president-elect in Chicago, November 17, 2008. During his run, McCain had famously tried to quell the rhetoric about his rival's background. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about,” he told supporter who'd called Obama "an Arab." WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) leaves a meeting where a new version of a GOP healthcare bill was unveiled to Republican senators at the U.S. Capitol July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. The latest version of the proposed bill aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also knows as Obamacare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images RETURN OF THE MAVERICK Despite losing the presidential election, McCain remained an influential member of the Senate. In July 2017, with a now-infamous thumbs-down gesture, he broke with his party and voted against the "skinny repeal" of Obamacare. (Pictured: McCain following that vote.) WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: Sen. John McCain (L) (R-AZ) returns to the U.S. Senate accompanied by his wife Cindy (R) July 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. McCain was recently diagnosed with brain cancer but returned on the day the Senate is holding a key procedural vote on U.S. President Donald TrumpÕs effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Win McNamee/Getty Images THIS TIME, THUMBS UP On July 14, 2017, a day after that thumbs-down vote, McCain underwent a surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. Five days later, lab results from that procedure confirmed the senator had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He took a short break for recovery, but quickly returned to the Senate on July 25, looking optimistic (pictured). On August 24 of the following year, however, his family announced he would discontinue treatment for his cancer. "John has surpassed expectations for his survival," their statement said. "But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict." WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) arrives at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office for a meeting on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC. Today marks the sixteenth day of the government shutdown and the last day to find a solution before the government could potentially begin defaulting on debts. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) Andrew Burton/Getty Images JOHN McCAIN: 1936-2018 "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears."



For more FOTO stories directly in your inbox, sign up for our free weekly newsletter.