Jack McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2009 with a degree in International Relations. After graduation, he reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola for Aviation Preflight Indoctrination, following on to Vance Air Force Base for primary flight training in the T-6A. After Vance, he selected rotary wing aviation and completed his advanced flight training at Whiting Field. He was then assigned to the Fleet Replacement Squadron, HSC-3, at Naval Air Station Coronado to fly the MH-60S. After graduating from the FRS, then Lt. j.g. McCain reported to HSC-25, the Island Knights, at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. While assigned there, he deployed to the Western Pacific, Persian Gulf, Brunei, Australia, Japan, and elsewhere, aboard the USS Essex, USS Stennis, USS Bonhomme Richard, and USS Denver. While not deployed, he participated in numerous search and rescue operations, including three life-saving rescues. After completing three years at HSC-25, he took assignment to the United States Naval Academy, as a senior instructor in the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program. While there, he taught the introductory leadership course to first-year midshipmen and developed his own curriculum in the form of Naval Leadership Traditions Retrospective, combining the study of history and leadership.
While teaching, he also completed his master’s degree in security studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and published his first book. Lt. McCain then volunteered for a combat assignment, requesting the Afpak Hands program. After nearly a year of intensive training in Afghan history, politics, basic combat skills, Dari language, and the UH-60A Blackhawk transition course, he deployed to Kandahar Airfield. Throughout his year in Afghanistan as an Air Advisor, he flew alongside his Afghan counterparts in the UH-60A, teaching advanced combat skills, tactics, and mission flying, throughout Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Helmand provinces, and assisted in developing the first tactical standard operating procedures for the Afghan Blackhawk. As an Afghan Hand, he acted as the link between the Afghan military and U.S. military, advising on cultural, political, and military issues. He then returned to the United States to take a position with American Airlines as a Director for State and Local Government Affairs out of their Phoenix hub.