The Untold Truth Of John McCain's Sons

There is a reason Meghan McCain cannot stop talking about or bringing up her father whenever she has a chance: The late Arizona Senator John McCain was an accomplished Republican, Vietnam war hero, and the Republican candidate for the 2008 presidential election. Though he historically lost to Barack Obama, he ran a promising campaign and was surprisingly liberal in his positions on LGBTQ+ rights, gun regulations, and campaign finance reform, per Facing South. Though he was politically a success, McCain's health led to many complications. 

According to Biography, McCain fought a long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. On Aug. 24, 2018, the war veteran decided to decline further treatment and passed away in his Sedona, Ariz. home. The senator was survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Cindy McCain (née Hensley), and his seven children: Doug, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John "Jack" Sidney IV, James "Jimmy," and Bridget. Keep scrolling to learn more about the sons of the memorable presidential candidate. 

Doug McCain takes after his father in many ways

Prior to his marriage to Cindy McCain, John McCain was married to Carol Shepp between 1965 and 1980. Before marrying McCain, Shepp gave birth to sons Doug and Andrew, who McCain adopted when the boys were young. Doug took after his adopted father and became a Navy pilot and then a captain for American Airlines after his service, per Town and Country magazine.

Following the senator's passing in 2018, American Airlines released a touching statement in honor of Doug and the McCain family, stating in part, "Senator McCain will be sorely missed but his impact lives on. We will not forget his shining example of patriotism based on the ideals of freedom and equality for all and global leadership by the United States in support of those ideals." 

Doug honored his father's life up until his actual funeral. According to AZ Central, he walked up to McCain's casket and performed a series of nonrhythmic knocks along its side. It was later revealed that he was creating the "Shave And A Haircut" riff, a sentimental gesture to the senator from his time as a captive in the Vietnam War. 

Andrew McCain chose a different career path than his siblings

Though most of his siblings made more political and military-based career choices, Andrew McCain went in a more corporate direction. According to Heavy, the Vanderbilt University graduate was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer for Hensley Beverage Company in 2017. Hensley Beverage & Co. is the largest beverage distributor in Arizona. In addition to beer, they also produce a variety of ciders, wines, spirits, and non-alcoholic products. 

As noted on the official website, "[Andrew] rose through the ranks in various positions, and since 2013 has served as both COO and CFO. He oversees and manages Hensley's operations, finance, treasury, accounting, strategic planning; information technology and sales and marketing operations." Though not a political move, the company is still very much a family endeavor.

Per the New York Times, Cindy McCain — stepmother of Andrew and founder Jim Hensley's daughter — has 34% ownership of the company as of 2008, and each of her biological children (Meghan, Jack, and James McCain) have 7.73% each. 

Will Jack McCain take office in the future?

John "Jack" Sidney McCain IV — the eldest son from John McCain's marriage to Cindy McCain (pictured) — also followed his father's military route. He went to and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and continued the "family's aviation tradition" by becoming a MH-60 Seahawk helicopter pilot, per Town and Country magazine. "I want to be a part of our family legacy," he said. 

In January 2020, Jack announced a major career change following his Afghanistan deployment. "I can finally share the good news and the big change," he wrote on Twitter (via AZ Central). "I am incredibly fortunate to have been hired by American Airlines, not as a pilot, but to be their Regional Director of Government Affairs out of their Phoenix hub! This means a big transition, and lots of hard work ahead."

The career shift led to some speculative thoughts on the young McCain potentially taking office; however, he told The Arizona Republic (via AZ Central) in June 2020 that he's still settling into his civilian life. "I do not have any immediate plans to run for office," Jack said. "That doesn't preclude making a decision in the future, but, you know, I'm really not that far back from Afghanistan. I've been back barely a year."

Jimmy McCain didn't want to live in his father's shadow

As the last son of Senator John McCain and coming from a family with a pronounced military tradition, it's not a shocker that James "Jimmy" McCain also joined the armed forces. Even so, Jimmy still chose to honor his father in his own way. The second youngest McCain enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17 years old, and according to Stars and Stripes, "served several tours in Iraq and is now a member of the Army National Guard." 

By joining the Marines rather than the Naval Academy like his father and oldest brothers, Jimmy carved out a new path for himself. In a 2008 New York Times profile of the McCain family, Lance Corporal Casey Gardiner said, "He didn't want to be in the shadow of his father," which is understandable after such a lengthy and curated family history. The McCain children carry on their father's legacy as a unit and as individuals, and they will surely continue that tradition with their own children.