Alexis Egeland

Friday, Aug. 31, 2018

For Tucson native, being even small part of McCain rites is ‘humbling’

WASHINGTON – As he was growing up, Tucson native Joshua Carrigg learned about Arizona Sen. John McCain when his family talked about McCain’s service to the country as a politician and veteran.

So it was a “humbling” experience when Carrigg, now Army 1st Sgt. Carrigg, served as non-commissioned officer in charge of the military detail that received McCain’s casket when it arrived at Joint Base Andrews Thursday night.

He oversaw an eight-man unit, with representatives from every branch of the military, that took the flag-draped casket from Air Force Two and carried it a short distance to the hearse that took the body to the Capitol, where it lay in state Friday.

The unit rehearsed for a day to prepare for the solemn job, what he called the “dignified transfer of remains,” that was over in minutes. But Carrigg said that being even just a small part of McCain’s memorial services was “a great experience.”

Carrigg said he regularly talked about McCain and the sacrifices he made for the country, whether it was in school or around the dinner table. But regardless of who was in the conversation, Carrigg said McCain was always discussed with honor and dignity – no one ever had a bad word to say about him.

“I think he embodied the integrity, personal courage, the willingness to continue on and fight and just to be a continuous voice for the people,” Carrigg said in an interview outside the Capitol Friday morning. “As a soldier we defend the Constitution … I think he embodied every part of that.”

The world could learn a lot from McCain, and Carrigg said he thinks the biggest lesson Americans can learn from him is simply to love each other.

“Be bipartisan,” Carrigg said. “Come across the table and kind of shake the other person’s hand. I think he did that well, and I think that’s something we can take away, especially in today’s environment.”

Though Carrigg never met McCain while he was living in Arizona, he said he met the senator a few times since he has been in Washington and that he was always a friendly, respectful man.

The last time Carrigg saw McCain, it was after the senator’s diagnosis with the brain cancer that would eventually kill him. But Carrigg said McCain, who was in a wheelchair, at the time was in good spirits as he shook Carrigg’s hand.

“The last thing he said to me was right there in the Capitol,” Carrigg said. “He said, ‘Thank you for your service.'”

-Cronkite News video by Daniel Perle