U.S. Navy Dress Bicorne Hat of Admiral John Sidney McCain, Sr.
This is United States Navy Admiral John S. McCain, Sr.'s cocked hat from the Interwar era (1918-1939). The hat, also known as a cocked hat or fore-and-aft hat, is made from black fur felt with black silk edges. Tassels of gold bullion adorn both ends of the hat while a double wide gold stripe runs down the right side, signifying the rank of commander or captain. A gold button embossed with a U.S. Navy eagle holding an anchor is fastened to the bottom middle of the stripe. On the inside is a leather sweatband. A manufacturer's stamp at the crown of the hat identifies the F.J. Schmidt Co. of Annapolis, Maryland. Bicornes were discontinued from official U.S. Navy use in 1940.1
Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. (1884-1945)
Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. was born on August 9, 1884, in Mississippi on his father’s plantation.2 He grew up there and went on to attend school at the University of Mississippi. After his second year in college, McCain decided he wanted to attend West Point Academy like his brother before him. In order to prepare for the entrance exam at West Point, McCain took the entrance exams for the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. After receiving high enough scores to enter the Naval Academy, he decided to attend Annapolis instead of West Point. He received a commission and rank of midshipman but graduated in the bottom quarter of his class in 1906.3
After graduation McCain spent time on the battleships Ohio and Baltimore.4 He served under Captain Chester Nimitz aboard the USS Panay, which was ordered to sail around the Philippines and establish an American presence in the area. In 1908, McCain was assigned to the USS Connecticut, the flagship of President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet.” At the time the fleet was making the final leg of its journey around the world.5 During World War I (1914-1918), McCain served on the cruiser USS San Diego, which acted as an escort for convoy ships in the Atlantic.6
John McCain, Sr. served in many different commands during the Interwar era (1918-1939). In 1935, he went to aviation school, a requirement for all Naval officers.7 At the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945), McCain was given the job of Commander of Air Forces for Western Sea Frontier and the South Pacific Force. While at this command, McCain committed a serious blunder. He failed to send some extra reconnaissance flights over the Solomon Island area before a Marine landing. He compounded this blunder by not relaying his failure to other Allied naval commanders in the area. This, in part, allowed the Japanese to launch a sneak attack against Allied forces in what became known as the Battle of Savo Island (August 9, 1942). The U.S. Navy took heavy losses that jeopardized operations taking place on Guadalcanal. While the Japanese were repelled from Guadalcanal, the blunder haunted McCain’s career.8
In October of 1942, Admiral McCain, Sr. became Chief of the Bureau of Naval Aeronautics where he served as an administrator. In August of 1943, he was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral and assigned to a newly created position of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air). Admiral McCain, Sr. worked tirelessly in these positions, trying to get more planes and pilots for the Navy.9
In August of 1944, Admiral McCain, Sr. was given another command in the Pacific. He was put in charge of Naval Carrier Group 38, a part of Task Force 38, which he commanded for a few months.10 During his command, Admiral McCain, Sr. took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. A week before the battle, he saved two damaged cruisers while under repeated Japanese attack.11 During the battle Admiral McCain, Sr. helped defend the Seventh Fleet after Admiral Halsey left them open to attack by moving his fleet in pursuit of a Japanese decoy. Though Admiral McCain, Sr.’s own ships were out of range, he quickly closed the gap between the two Allied forces and launched attacks against the Japanese fleet.12 He remained in the Pacific for the rest of the war, commanding with distinction. From July through August of 1945, his planes destroyed over 3,000 enemy aircraft.13
Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. was present at the surrender of the Japanese in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. He witnessed the event along with his son, John S. McCain Jr. who was also a Navy officer, while aboard the USS Missouri.14 He died of a heart attack at a welcome home celebration six days later on September 6, 1945.15 Upon his death, he was given the rank of Admiral. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.16 Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. is the grandfather of Arizona Senator John S. McCain, III.
|United States||Interwar Period|