John McCain
John McCain Reuters

U.S. Senator John McCain passed away on Saturday at the age of 81.

McCain's office said in a statement that the Arizona GOP senator died at 4:28 p.m., and was accompanied by his wife, Cindy McCain, and their family.

"At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years,” McCain's office wrote.

McCain’s death from brain cancer came more than a year after he announced he had the condition in July of 2017.

His death comes a day after his family announced that he had chosen to discontinue medical treatment because the “progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age” had rendered “their verdict.”

McCain has been absent from the Senate this year due to his illness, and cast his last vote on December 7. Before he left, treatment has forced him to use a wheelchair in his final days in Washington.

McCain was born at a U.S. naval air station in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, the son of John S. McCain Jr., who would go on to become the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Roberta McCain.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958 was later deployed as a naval aviator flying attack missions over enemy territory during the Vietnam War.

On October, 26, 1967, McCain’s Skyhawk jet was shot down over North Vietnam by a barrage of surface-to-air missiles. He ejected from the plane but suffered serious injuries, breaking both arms and his right leg. He spent the next five and a half years in captivity as a prisoner of war.

First elected to the Senate in 1986, McCain challenged George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, losing the nomination. He became the GOP nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama and returning to the Senate for the next nine years.

McCain was a staunch supporter of Israel and was critical of Obama’s relations with Israel, saying in 2015 that the relationship between the United States and Israel is “the worst that I've ever seen in my lifetime”.

He also attacked then-Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to force through a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority on Israel, calling him a "human wrecking ball" at one point.

Despite his poor health in recent months, he continued to have an active influence on the debate in Washington.

In July, he criticized President Donald Trump for failing to take a tougher stance with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Helsinki, blasting the president’s performance as “disgraceful” and the summit itself as a “tragic mistake.”

The month before, McCain slammed Trump’s trade policies, telling allies after the Group of Seven summit that “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

While McCain backed Trump in the presidential election in 2016, he previously said he has serious concerns about Trump, backing former Republican nominee Mitt Romney in his criticism.

Trump expressed his condolences over McCain’s death, tweeting on Saturday night, “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

Obama too expressed his condolences over McCain’s death and said, “Few of us have been tested the way John was, or required to show the courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.