Senator John McCain has a remarkable record of leadership and experience that embodies his unwavering lifetime commitment to service. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982, John has led the fight for reforming Washington, eliminating wasteful government spending, and strengthening our nation’s armed forces.
Senator McCain’s reform agenda to reduce federal spending and lower taxes quickly elevated him to statewide office and he was elected to the United States Senate in 1986, after serving two terms in the U.S. House.
In the Senate, he continued to demand that Congress put an end to loopholes for special interests and fix the broken system in Washington that too often allows lobbyists to write legislation and members of Congress to waste taxpayer money. In November of 2010, Senator McCain was overwhelmingly reelected with nearly sixty percent of the vote.
As the son and grandson of distinguished Navy admirals, John McCain deeply values duty, honor and service of country. John attended college at the United States Naval Academy, and launched a 22-year career as a naval aviator upon his graduation.
On July 29, 1967, John 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, Senator McCain 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. John 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, Senator McCain continued his service by regaining his naval flight status.
Senator McCain’s 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 honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Senator McCain currently serves on the following Senate Committees during the 112th Congress: Ranking Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Committee on Indian Affairs.
Senator McCain has seven children and four grandchildren, and currently lives in Phoenix,
Arizona with his wife Cindy.
Australian Prime Minister – 1996 – 2007
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was preparing for a media conference in the offices of the Australian Embassy in Washington, when the terrible news of the first attack on the World Trade Centre filtered through. Initially I thought it was a terrible accident, however events moved at pace and, with the attack on tower two and the subsequent explosion at the Pentagon, it became apparent that America was under attack, and by a quirk of fate the leader of one of the USA’s staunchest ally was in the midst of it.
I was scheduled to speak at a joint sitting of the US Congress the next day, an opportunity that could not go ahead. I instead went to Congress to express Australia’s support, and my entourage was the only party allowed into the chamber. The emotion of the moment and shared grief left an indelible mark upon my consciousness, for the September 11 attack was not just on America, but on all things that our great freedom-loving societies stand for, as subsequent attacks have shown.
The US-Australian alliance has transcended the test of time. We stood side by side in all the major conflicts of the 20th century, endured depressions and the tribulation of worldwide natural disasters, and together we faced and defeated the scourges of totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century.
I knew at that moment that together again we would have to face an even more incidious challenge, that of religious extremism in the 21st century.
The Tour of Duty Ride is a practical reflection of the values and the aspirations that two great freedom-loving societies enjoy. The ride rejects the notions of exclusion, of hatred and above all of extreme ideologies. The ride rather embraces the enlightenment of life, its liberties and freedom’s and it rejoices in the goodness that is the essence of the human race. But ultimately it honours the brave men and women of the military and emergency services who sacrifice their future to ensure that others can prosper, the very embodiment of those values.
I support the endeavours and exertions of the committed military, fire fighters and police from Australia and the US who will participate and acknowledge the service they provide in protecting the world we live in today.
On August 12, 2010, 16 Australian firefighters, combined with their American firefighter colleagues, ran in a relay from Santa Monica Pier – Los Angeles to New York. Their epic run took them right across the United States finishing at the World Trade Center Site on September 11th 2010. This event was called the Tour of Duty.
The run was a dedication to the memory of the emergency service workers who sacrificed their own lives for others in what was one of the worst acts of terrorism the world has witnessed.
Physical fitness has always been apart of my lifestyle and in particular through the sport of cycling. I was very impressed at the efforts of the fire fighters who ran across America passing through the heat of the desert and some altitude climbs as they pounded their way to New York City in memory of all of those people who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Australia and America have always shared a great alliance either during the conflicts of war or through economic recession and world natural disasters. I am pleased to hear that the Tour of Duty team are again out to continue their great work. In 2012 they plan to cycle across America. The fire fighters will be joined by military personal from both countries who have served their own tour of duty. This event will respect the bravery of emergency service workers, fallen fire fighters and all the soldiers who have served and are currently on active duty today.
Over the years I have been involved with many cycling events and none bigger than the Tour De France. The Tour of Duty Ride will cover over 4,500km over some 21 stages, enduring the heat and terrain of the United States. The Tour of Duty Ride will be a physical reflection and will honour all those who serve to provide us with the lifestyle we live today. And more importantly it will reflect the supreme values of humanity, mateship, camaraderie and self sacrifice.
I am honored to support the Tour of Duty Ride in 2012 and look forward to sharing the journey with the team.