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John McCain told Susan Collins ‘I’m going to die at home in my own bed’ during rough landing

Sen. Susan Collins on Sunday recalled a past trip to the Middle East with Sen. John McCain, when Mr. McCain coolly reassured her during a rough landing with words that turned out to be prescient.

“He took younger senators under his wing. In my case, he taught me so much about national security and foreign policy, even when we didn’t always agree,” Mrs. Collins, Maine Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

She said Mr. McCain took her four times to Iraq and Afghanistan, and offered her notable words of reassurance during an overseas trip that involved a spiral landing at Bagram Air Base.

“I was absolutely terrified and he was just chatting with Joe Lieberman, and he reached over and he said to me, ‘don’t worry, Susan‘ — I remember this so clearly now — ‘I’ve been through so much. I’m going to die at home in my own bed,’” she said.

“And I couldn’t help but think of that yesterday, that at least he was at his beloved Sedona and with his family,” she said.

Mr. McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81, had been held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years after his plane was shot down. Even amid relentless torture, he refused release, which could have given his captors a propaganda victory since Mr. McCain’s father was a high-ranking military official.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Mr. McCain was also an avid supporter of U.S. combat forces. He became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015, and the most recent annual defense authorization bill was named after him.

Mrs. Collins said the American people should know Mr. McCain was a “true patriot.”

“A man who loved his country, who would do anything to advance his country – a man who believed in national unity…who lived a life of self-sacrifice, and who is an inspiration not only to those of us who serve now, but to future generations as well,” she said.

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