Oceana-based fighter jets to perform at McCain’s interment

F_A-18F Super Hornets assigned to USS Theodore_124479

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A group of four F/A-18 Super Hornets will fly in the missing man formation to honor Senator John McCain at his interment at the U.S. Naval Academy on Sunday. 

The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed at a funeral or memorial event in memory of a deceased aviator. One of the airplanes in the four-plane formation will pull up in a vertical position to signify the passing of the aviator’s soul to the heavens, according to Naval Air Force Atlantic. 

The squadrons are Strike Fighter Squadron -31 (VFA-31), the “Tomcatters”; VFA-32 “Swordsmen”; VFA-105 “Gunslingers”; and VFA-87 “War Party.”

McCain was a naval aviator and was shot down over Vietnam. He was held as a prisoner of war for over five years and was awarded the Silver Star Medal following his release. 

Related: A timeline of John McCain’s service to his country

McCain was the GOP presidential nominee in 2008 and lost to Barack Obama. At the time of his death, he was in his sixth term representing the state of Arizona. 

In July of last year, doctors found a brain tumor during a procedure to remove a blood clot above his eye. He died on Aug. 25 at the age of 81, shortly after his family announced he was stopping treatment for brain cancer. 

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