Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed his respect for Senator John McCain, who passed away this week from brain cancer, for his “steadfast courage and his service,” during a press conference earlier today at the Pentagon.

“Our nation has lost a great patriot and our military has lost one of our most ardent supporters,” Mattis said. “Senator McCain represented all the ideals American stands for … [he] never lost sight of our shared purpose in the defense of freedom.

Mattis said he would be attending Senator McCain’s funeral at the US Naval Academy cemetery later this week.