WASHINGTON – Before departing from Hanoi, Vietnam, on Monday, President Joe Biden paid his respects at the John Sidney McCain III Memorial, honoring the former Arizona Republican senator who died in 2018 after a battle with brain cancer.
“I miss him. He was a good friend,” Biden said at the memorial, which rests near Truc Bach Lake where McCain’s aircraft was shot down during the Vietnam War in 1967. McCain was arrested and held in captivity for about five years at the “Hanoi Hilton” prison.
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Secretary of State Antony Blinken stood near Biden as he touched a wreath of red white and blue flowers that rested in front of the memorial and bowed his head, according to a pool report.
The president also shook the hands of the marine and navy officer standing on each side of the memorial and left one of his command coins there, the White House said.
“It was important to me,” Biden said of going to the memorial.
Biden and McCain met in the 1970s, when Biden was a senator and McCain was a Navy Senate liaison. Biden traveled widely as a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and would pick McCain to accompany him. He also sought McCain’s advice before his discussions with foreign leaders.
Ted Kaufman, a former Delaware senator who is close to Biden, previously told USA TODAY that while Biden and McCain didn’t agree on a number of policy issues, they “didn’t personalize it.”
“They really liked each other,” Kaufman said.
Contributing: Nicole Gaudiano, Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ‘I miss him’: Biden pays respects at John McCain memorial in Vietnam