John McCain's best friend Chuck Larson had 'reserved' adjacent graves for them at cemetery

Larson and McCain were known as the 'odd couple' at the US Naval Academy, with Larson being a well-behaved, straight-A student and McCain performing rather poorly


                            John McCain's best friend Chuck Larson had 'reserved' adjacent graves for them at cemetery

On Sunday, Senator John McCain was laid to rest at his alma mater the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While it has been reported that the Republican senator was laid to rest beside his best friend, not many know about his long and endearing relationship with Chuck Larson.

According to a memoir, Chuck Larson, who was an admiral himself and McCain's ally throughout his life, had allegedly reserved four plots at the cemetery years ago — two for McCain and himself, and two for their wives. He was McCain's lifelong friend, and the late senator wanted to be buried right next to him, "near where it began".  



 

Larson aspired to become a member of the US Naval Academy graduating class of 1958, prompting him to move to Annapolis. He and McCain subsequently became roommates for two years as they attended flight school, according to Larson's obituary.

The duo was known as the "odd couple" in school, with Larson being a well-behaved, straight-A student on one hand and McCain performing rather poorly in the classroom on the other. The late senator had apparently earned the nickname "McNasty" after his rebellious antics during the time.

As a pilot, Larson trained alongside McCain flying off aircraft carriers. In the late 1950s, after flying quite a few attack jets, he made the decision to switch his major and joined the nuclear submarine service. He made a record back in 1979 when he was promoted to Admiral at age 43 — the second-youngest person in US history to be given the position.

Having said that, McCain always looked up to Larson and even asked for his help during his first presidential run. At the time of his bid for GOP nomination in 2000, Larson was reportedly a member of the late senator's foreign policy defense team.

Larson ultimately died from pneumonia on July 26, 2014, after battling leukemia for two years, according to Commander Wes Huey. 



 

McCain's memorial service, held at the academy's chapel, was attended by family members, military leaders, friends from his Class of 1958 and midshipmen. A procession to the burial site followed right after the ceremony. Sen. McCain died August 25 from brain cancer at age 81. The Republican senator from Arizona and GOP presidential nominee was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and later a celebrated war hero.

The series of events right from Arizona to Washington that led up to the burial, including the final private ceremony, were planned in careful detail.

Speeches by daughter Meghan McCain, Republican George W Bush, and Democrat Barack Obama at the National Cathedral in Washington on Saturday recounted their memories with the erstwhile senator, calling him a "patriot who could bridge painful rivalries", according to Washington Times.

That said, the senators, in their admiration for McCain, indirectly voiced their denunciation of President Trump’s brand of politics.

The late senator's 106-year-old mother Roberta McCain accompanied family members as they escorted his remains to the burial site.

There was a line of several hundred people on the street outside, whose applause resounded across the neighborhood as the hearse carrying McCain passed through a gate and into the academy. "God bless you," some shouted, crossing their hearts and waving the star spangled banner.

In this U.S. Navy handout, Midshipmen salute the late Sen. John McCain as a horse-drawn caisson transports his flag-draped casket to the United States Naval Academy Cemetery for his burial service, September 2, 2018, in Annapolis, Maryland. (Getty)
In this U.S. Navy handout, Midshipmen salute the late Sen. John McCain as a horse-drawn caisson transports his flag-draped casket to the United States Naval Academy Cemetery for his burial service, September 2, 2018, in Annapolis, Maryland. (Getty)

During a memorial service at the Rotunda of the Capitol, quite a few of the late war hero's friends remembered his wit, character, and charm as he lay in state.

Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who serves as the Senate Majority Leader, said McCain was a noble statesman, a cocky aviator, and a paragon of patriotism  “all rolled into one.” He added that his finest values were his honesty and candor.

“You knew John would either be your staunchest ally or your most stubborn opponent,” he said.

Meghan McCain breaks down as thousands gather to pay tribute to war hero John McCain. (Getty)
Meghan McCain breaks down as thousands gather to pay tribute to war hero John McCain. (Getty)

 

Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the speakers at the service, said he would tell the audience that "nobody loved a soldier more than John McCain, that I bear witness to his commitment to have their back, travel where they go, never let them be forgotten." 

"There's a lesson to be learned this week about John McCain," he said.

"No. 1, Americans appreciate military service... If you work hard and do your homework and know what you're talking about, people will listen to you. That if you pick big causes bigger than yourself, you'll be remembered," Graham told "Fox News Sunday."

"He tried to drain the swamp before it was cool, that you can fight hard and still be respected. If you forgive, people appreciate it, and if you admit to mistakes, you look good as a stronger man. That's the formula, John McCain. This was a civics lesson for anybody who wanted to listen. Why do we remember this man? Because of the way he conducted his public life."



 

Vice President Mike Pence, who represented the White House at the ceremony, said that President Trump genuinely respected McCain's service to the country despite their frequent political spars.

“For 35 years, John served in these very halls under this very dome, and he fought for what he believed in,” Mr. Pence said, while lauding his metamorphosis from a military combatant to a statesman.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump frequently clashed with the late politician, and once also questioned his "war hero" status after the Vietnam War.

Furthermore, he indirectly blamed McCain for turning his back on GOP hopes for an Obamacare repeal bill.

However, Pence lauded McCain's steadfast commitment to the core principles of the GOP — like tax-reforms and limited government.

“We will ever remember that John McCain served his country, and John McCain served his country honorably,” the vice president said.