Being a small college teacher/coach, summer employment was a must for survival. Students, too, needed to earn summer money. So, in 1968, when coaching friends Bob Paroli and Dick Knox, offered me a job in New York I headed north. Coach Paroli was the summer headmaster of the private academy, New York Military Academy, and he also needed college students to fill out the staff. I recruited five athletes who were enrolled at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College in Wilson, NC). Most all of the summer campers were from New York City. 370 teenage and preteen boys. All shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and behaviors. One Italian 10 year agreed to say the blessing every day: “Rocky DiPietro will now say grace: “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thou bounty through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”
In October of 2015 Donald Trump’s statements about John McCain (“…he is no hero.” Or “…I prefer my heroes to not be captured.”) stunned me. I wondered how he could survive such a vile tact. I knew that Trump was deferred four times during the Vietnam war. Upon researching the reason he cited was “…bone spurs in his heel.” Incredulously he couldn’t recall which heel.
Then the all time kicker. Trump equated his military expertise as superior, having attended military school. Nearby West Point? Nope—New York Military Academy. SAY WHAT?
Toward the end of that summer it was announced the campers would re-fight the Civil War. Coach Bob Gilmore of Sanford, NC would command the South, and General “McFanny” (Gary McMahan of Va. Beach), the North.
There was never any other type of military education or concern.
My guys said it was a so-so water battle.
McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and followed his father and grandfather—both four-star admirals—into the U.S. Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While McCain was on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. The wounds that he sustained during the war left him with lifelong physical disabilities. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. In 1982, McCain was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1987 and easily won reelection five times, the last time in 2016.