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Before John McCain’s tour of duty in Vietnam, he married Carol Shepp, a model from Philadelphia. On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam in 1967, McCain was shot down and captured.
While he was imprisoned, Carol was in an auto wreck (1969), thrown through her car’s windshield and left seriously injured. Despite her injures, she refused to allow her POW husband to be notified about her condition, fearing that such news would not be good for him while he was being held prisoner.
When McCain returned to the United States in 1973 after more than five years as a prisoner of war, he found his wife was a different person. The accident “left her 4 inches shorter and on crutches, and she had gained a good deal of weight.”
Yearning to make the grade of admiral, McCain enrolled in the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. and underwent physical therapy in order to fly again. The Navy excused his permanent disabilities and reinstated him to flight status, effectively positioning him for promotion.
In his book, The Nightingale’s Song, Robert Timberg chronicled McCain’s post-Vietnam military assignments and some of his “adulterous” behavior leading to his divorce from Carol and marriage to Cindy Hensley.
Timberg wrote, “in the fall of 1974, McCain was transferred to Jacksonville as the executive officer of Replacement Air Group 174, the long-sought flying billet at last a reality. A few months later, he assumed command of the RAG, which trained pilots and crews for carrier deployments. The assignment was controversial, some calling it favoritism, a sop to the famous son of a famous father and grandfather [both were Navy admirals], since he had not first commanded a squadron, the usual career path.”
While Executive Officer and later as Squadron Commander McCain used his authority to arrange frequent flights that allowed him to carouse with subordinates and “engage in extra-marital affairs.” Such behavior was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice rules against adultery and fraternization with subordinates..
Timberg wrote, “Off duty, usually on routine cross-country flights to Yuma and El Centro, John started carousing and running around with women. To make matters worse, some of the women with whom he was linked by rumor were subordinates . . . At the time the rumors were so widespread that, true or not, they became part of McCain’s persona, impossible not to take note of.”
In early 1977, Admiral Jim Holloway, Chief of Naval Operations promoted McCain to captain and transferred him from his command position “to Washington as the number-two man in the Navy’s Senate liaison office. It wasn’t long before the “fun loving and irreverent” McCain had turned the liaison office into a “late-afternoon gathering spot where senators and staffers, usually from the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, would drop in for a drink and the chance to unwind.”
In 1979 at a military reception in Honolulu, McCain met Cindy Hensley, an attractive 25-year-old woman from a very wealthy politically-connected Arizona family. Cindy’s father, Jim, founded the Hensley and Company, the nation’s third-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor.
McCain described their first meeting, “She was lovely, intelligent and charming, 17 years my junior but poised and confident. I monopolized her attention the entire time, taking care to prevent anyone else from intruding on our conversation. When it came time to leave the party, I persuaded her to join me for drinks at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. By the evening’s end, I was in love.”
While still married to Carol, McCain began an adulterous relationship with Cindy. He married Cindy in May 1980 — just a month after dumping Carol and securing a divorce. The newlyweds honeymooned in Hawaii.
McCain followed his young, millionairess wife back to Arizona where her father helped catapult McCain into politics,
Today, Cindy Hensley McCain is chairwoman of Hensley’s board of directors. Hensley and Company financial reports show assets worth a minimum of $28 million for the McCains
McCain Divorce Settlement Outlined
By BILL KACZOR
Associated Press Writer
February 24, 2000
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) – John McCain gave up his interest in two homes and agreed to pay $1,625 a month in alimony and child support when he divorced his first wife 20 years ago, court records show.
The senator and Republican presidential candidate divorced his wife Carol in 1980 when he was a Navy captain with a home of record in Orange Park, Fla., about 12 miles south of Jacksonville.
McCain, 63, gave her his interest in homes in Alexandria, Va., and South Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., according to records of the divorce settlement obtained by The Associated Press and other newspapers.
The Arizona senator agreed to give her their furnishings, $1,325 a month in alimony, $300 in child support. He also agreed to pay an additional $500 monthly if she couldn’t find a job.
She was subsequently employed in the Reagan White House, according to George “Bud” Day, McCain’s attorney during the divorce. Day also was one McCain’s cellmates when they were prisoners of war in Vietnam.
Carol McCain, who has remained friendly with her former husband, did not immediately return a phone call to her Virginia home Thursday seeking comment.
McCain filed for the divorce, stating in court records that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
Under the settlement, McCain maintained insurance policies worth $64,000 with their children as beneficiaries, agreed to pay for their daughter’s college education and paid $3,005 in joint debts. Carol McCain got the family’s Audi, while McCain was allowed to keep a Datsun 810 and his personal belongings, the records show.
A month after the divorce, McCain married Cindy Lou Hensley, heiress to Phoenix-based Hensley & Co., the nation’s second-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor.
Carol McCain was seriously injured in a traffic accident on Christmas Eve 1969, but her husband did not find out about it until he was released from Vietnam, Day said.
In the settlement, McCain agreed to provide insurance or pay medical bills for additional treatment she was expected to require.