Local veterans remember John McCain as a hero

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Much of the country is still coming to terms with the death of Arizona Senator John McCain. Some veterans in our area say they were always big supporters. One even served with McCain.

“He’s his own man. He’s gonna do it his own way,” veteran Bill Paschall said.

For many veterans in the Cape Fear, McCain was both a politician and relatable war hero who genuinely cared about the well being of veterans in the country.

“I think in his mind what he does is always best for the country, particularly the military. Strong, always been a strong supporter of the military, where some have not,” Paschall said.

Paschall served on the same ship as McCain during the Vietnam War. He remembers when the Vietnamese offered McCain his freedom after they took him prisoner.

“His father was commander in chief of the pacific; he was a four-star admiral. It was nothing but a public ploy to make America look bad, and John McCain was smart. He turned him down, and he stayed and was out for, I think, another three years,” Paschall said.

Other veterans say the Vietnamese were probably harder on McCain because of that decision.

“He hung in there. His tenacity was still there, and he hung in there as a brave soldier and brave sailor. I regret his passing, because he is very well known for his behavior,” veteran Peter Harrington said.

Even though he never became president, they wanted to support him.

“I still have his bumper sticker at home because, you know, he didn’t get elected, but he still served his country in the Senate of the United States,” Harrington said.

They just want to say goodbye now.

“Fair winds and the following sea, John. See you in Heaven someday,” Paschall said.

“God bless you, and keep your eye on the country. Really. ‘Cause he did. He was a patriot,” Harrington said.

Many of the veterans said McCain really understood what they went through and are grateful for his efforts and dedication to the country.

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