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John McCain, despite treatment, called families of those killed on USS McCain

In this Aug. 21, 2017, photo, damage is visible as the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain steers towards Changi naval base in Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton/U.S. Navy photo via AP)

PHOENIX — A month after being diagnosed with brain cancer last year, Sen. John McCain took the time call the families of those killed in an accident on the U.S. Navy ship that bears the name of his father and grandfather, the co-writer of his new memoir told Time.

The website posted Mark Salter’s account of McCain’s actions on Monday, the day an HBO documentary about the ailing senator was to debut.

Salter said he was in Phoenix with McCain after 10 crew members of the USS John S. McCain died in an accident off the coast of Singapore in August 2017.

McCain had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in July, and Salter said those around the senator could see the effects treatment was having on him.

But that didn’t stop the former naval pilot from calling the families to express his condolences and see if there was any way he could help.

“[He’s] just one American recognizing the sacrifice that other American families had just made and wanting them to know that he was thinking about them, wanting to know — what did they need? What could he do for them?” Salter told Time. “Then he’d call his staff and say, ‘This family wants this, see what we can do to get it for them.’

“No fanfare, drew no attention to it. Just a guy being decent at a moment when he had a lot of things to deal with.”

Salter was a longtime speechwriter for McCain and co-wrote the “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes Great Fights, and Other Appreciations,” which was released last week.

As of Monday morning, the memoir was No. 9 on Amazon’s best-seller list.

To coincide with Memorial Day, HBO scheduled the first airing of “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” for Monday at 5 p.m. Arizona time.

The six-term senator agreed to take part in the project soon after being diagnosed with cancer.

HBO said the 81-year-old gave filmmakers “unprecedented access to his daily life in Washington D.C. and Sedona.”

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