‘Chuck has his wingman back’ says wife of admiral beside whom McCain will be buried

On Sunday, Sen. John McCain will be honored in a private memorial service at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and laid to rest alongside his longtime friend and classmate, Adm. Chuck Larson.

“Chuck has his wingman back now,” Sarah Larson, the wife of the late admiral, told CNN’s John Berman in an interview on “New Day” Friday.

Sarah Larson, who was married to Chuck for 52 years before he died in 2014, said she first learned 20 years ago that McCain and her husband wanted to be buried next to one another.

“Chuck came home one day and he said, ‘I picked out my grave,’ and I went ‘Oh, OK.’ And when you do that kind of thing 20 some years ago, you don’t think that’s ever going to happen, so I just said, ‘That’s fine, good,’ and he said, ‘By the way, John is going to be next to me,'” Sarah Larson recalled.

She added, “That was 20 some years ago, and then all of a sudden, it hit that oh my goodness, they will be next to each other.”

Chuck Larson and McCain were classmates of the Naval Academy’s graduating class of 1958. But while Larson graduated toward the top of the class, McCain graduated fifth from the bottom. After graduation, McCain and Larson earned their wings together at the Naval Air Station Pensacola and shared living quarters during their advance flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, before Larson entered submarine service.

Despite their different paths, the two men had many similarities, the Larson family said.

“They really were thoughtful and principled leaders. At the same time, they also both knew how to have a lot of fun and had a great sense of humor. It is no surprise to me that they would end up best friends,” Erica Larson, one of Sarah and Chuck’s three daughters, told CNN.

Kristen Larson-Datko, another daughter, added that the two possessed “integrity, dedication to service, love their country, honor, every good quality you can think of.”

Larson went on to become the second-youngest admiral in US Navy history and two-time superintendent of the Naval Academy. McCain would pursue a career in politics, serving decades in the US Senate.

Asked what drew the two men back to Annapolis, Erica Larson said, “I think it is back to the beginning. That’s where it all began.”