Iowa Military Members Reflect on Senator John McCain

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Iowa military members say Senator John McCain will be remembered for his ‘Service Above Self’ mindset.

Like many presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain made his way to Iowa to campaign all across the state.

On one of those trips, he toured the damage following the floods of 2008 and made a special visit to the town of Columbus Junction where Iowa National Guard soldiers were responding.

Iowa National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Michael Wunn said one of his favorite memories of McCain comes from that trip.

“There was a soldier that was down there that was due to be married like the following weekend and his fiance had found out about that he had taken off. She didn’t have a lot of information.

She found out where he was and he was down in Columbus Junction,” Wunn said she then called the mayor and told him, “Come hell or high water we are going to get married.”

He said the town hosted the wedding and had a special visitor.

“So they put the plans together to have a wedding for one of our soldiers and his fiance and they became a national story. Senator McCain was in Iowa campaigning for the presidency back in 2008 and he made his way to Columbus Junction with a wedding present for the couple,” Wunn said.

He said McCain also visited with the Iowa National Guard in Afghanistan in 2010.

“He epitomizes the military values, service above self. Really that is one of the highlights of our army military values is selfless service. You know, personal courage, duty, honor-- all those things that are important to us as military members and Senator McCain through his example, when he was a prisoner of war and throughout his life in public service, he epitomized those values,” Wunn said.

A former state lawmaker and navy veteran said McCain did a campaign event on his behalf right before the kick off of his own presidential campaign.

“It was a really interesting day for me, seeing a United States Senator and Presidential Candidate meeting everyday Iowans and just how the process works. We all see a lot of it being in Iowa, kind of having a front row seat was really interesting and how he could relate to so many people and really enjoyed meeting Iowans and spending time with them,” Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs Steve Lukan said.

He said McCain’s time as a prisoner of war set an example.

“You think about John McCain who spent over five years as a prisoner of war and you think ‘Well maybe today isn’t so bad.’ So it’s one of the little things I use as a guidepost reminder that he went through five and a half years in a Vietnam prison camp and he never wavered in his commitment to the United States,” Lukan said.

The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs said McCain will be honored during their POW/ MIA recognition day on September 21 at the Des Moines VA Hospital.