Current Recipient


Acceptance Speech


Senator John McCain has a remarkable record of leadership and experience that embodies his unwavering lifetime commitment to service.  First elected to Congress in 1982, he has led the fight for reforming Washington, eliminating wasteful government spending, and strengthening our nation’s armed forces.

As the son and grandson of distinguished Navy admirals, Senator McCain deeply values duty, honor and service of country.  He attended the United States Naval Academy, and launched a 22-year career as a naval aviator upon his graduation.  On July 29, 1967, he narrowly survived the first of many near-death experiences during his lifetime while preparing to take off on a bombing mission over North Vietnam from his ship, the USS Forrestal.  A missile accidentally fired from a nearby plane struck the fuel tanks on his plane.

Instead of taking the option to return home after the Forrestal disaster, he volunteered for more combat duty – a fateful decision that stopped the clock on his life and separated him from his family, and country, for five and a half years.

During his 23rd bombing mission on October 26, 1967, a missile struck his plane and forced him to eject, knocking him unconscious and breaking both his arms and his leg.  He was then taken as a prisoner of war into the now infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was denied necessary medical treatment and often beaten by the North Vietnamese.  He spent much of his time as a prisoner of war in solitary confinement, aided by his faith and the friendships of his fellow POWs.  When he was finally released and able to return home years later, he continued his service by regaining his naval flight status.

His last Navy duty assignment was to serve as the naval liaison to the United States Senate.  He retired from the Navy in 1981.  His naval awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He was elected to the House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the Senate in 1986.  He was the Republican Party’s nominee for President in 2008.

Senator McCain currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and is a member of the Committees on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Indian Affairs.  He has seven children and four grandchildren, and currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Cindy.