(Image source from: The Boston Globe)
A former vice president, an NFL ( National Football League) star and other friends remembered Senator John McCain as a "true American hero," and a terrible driver with a wicked sense of humor and love of a good battle - at a crowded church service on Thursday for the maverick politician that ended to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "My Way."
Addressing an estimated 3,500 mourners, former Vice President Joe Biden recalled: "the sheer joy that crossed his face when he knew he was about to take the stage of the Senate floor and start a fight."
A Democrat, Biden, who was among the fast friends the Republican senator made across the aisle, said he thought of McCain as a brother, "with a lot of family fights."
The service for the statesman, a former prisoner of war and two-time presidential candidate unfolded at North Phoenix Baptist Church after a motorcade bearing McCain's body past Arizona's waving American flags and campaign-style McCain signs, made its way from the state Capitol.
Family members watched in silence as uniformed military members removed the flag-draped coffin from a black hearse and carried it into the church.
McCain, 81, died on August 25 of brain cancer.
Grant Woods, McCain's longtime chief of staff, a former Arizona attorney general, drew laughter with a praise in which he talked about McCain's "terribly bad driving" and his sense of humor.
Woods as well recalled the way McCain would acquaint him with new staff members by saying, "You'll have to fire half of them."
The church's senior pastor, Noe Garcia, pronounced McCain "a true American hero."
For the six-term senator, the service brought to a close two days of mourning and 2008 GOP presidential nominee in his home state.
A motorcade then took McCain's body to the airport, where it was put aboard a military plane that took off for Washington for a lying-in-state at the United States Capitol on Friday, a service at the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, and burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday.
Twenty-four sitting U.S. senators and four former senators attended the church service, according to McCain's office.
Biden said McCain "could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country."
At the end of the nearly 90-minute ceremony, McCain's casket was wheeled out of the church to "My Way," in tribute to a leader best-known for pursuing his own path based on his personal principles.
By Sowmya Sangam