Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby became emotional on Wednesday when he recalled a letter the late Sen. John McCain had written to his son as he was getting ready to be commissioned into the US Navy.
Kirby, a former spokesperson for the State Department and current CNN analyst, said he had asked for McCain to offer some advice to his son that "he could hold on to as he goes out to lead sailors."
In the letter, McCain, a formal naval aviator who was held as a prisoner of war during Vietnam, wrote that "God blessed me with the company heroes and it was all the difference in my life."
McCain's letter continued, "Be proud of your accomplishments and never stop believing in yourself. And most importantly, you will find the most happiness in serving a cause greater than your own self-interests."
Kirby told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "nothing that I could have said to my son as a dad could be better than what Sen. McCain said to my son."
The admiral's remembrance came amid processions to have McCain lie in state at the Arizona Capitol. The Arizona Republican died last Saturday at the age of 81.