By the time government offices closed for the day, as many as 6,000 people had filed by, and that number was expected to grow, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said.

Some people traveled for hours, including a group of Vietnamese-born residents of Orange County, California, who arrived on two buses and wore yellow T-shirts reading, “We salute our hero Senator John McCain.”

McCain was beloved among many Vietnamese-Americans for his history of fighting alongside the South Vietnamese and for supporting the families of political detainees, said Derrick Nguyen, who was with the group.

Nguyen said that in the 1990s, McCain pushed an amendment to a law that allowed for unmarried, adult children of political detainees to come to the U.S.

“Many, many of the families that wouldn’t have made it to America made it here,” he said. “And they have become U.S. citizens and good Americans.”

Ray Riordan, an 87-year-old Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War, came from Payson, Arizona.

“I grew up where a handshake was a contract and your word was your bond,” Riordan said. “He represented the last of that as far as I’m concerned.”

Kassandra Morales, 44, stood in line with her sons, 8 and 2. The Democrat brought a bouquet of flowers and said she had always looked up to McCain and voted for him.

“Yesterday I asked my son who his hero was. He gave me a rapper’s name,” Morales said. “I brought my children here to show them what a real hero was.”

For some Arizona residents, McCain has been a political fixture their entire lives. He took office in the state in the early 1980s, first as a congressman and then as a senator.

Phil Hubbard, a health care recruiter who lives in Scottsdale, held a cold water bottle in each hand as he waited for a chance to pay his respects.

“He believed in something,” Hubbard said. “That’s what he did, and that’s what a lot of people need to do in this country. If you believe in something, stand up for it, whether it’s popular or not.”

On Thursday morning, a procession through Phoenix will bring the casket to a memorial service at a Baptist church, with the public invited to line the route along a highway. Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak.

McCain will then depart Arizona for another viewing Friday at the U.S. Capitol, with a final memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, followed by burial at the academy.


Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi, Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report.