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Former President, George HW Bush

Discussion in 'Celebrities and Entertainment From WWII' started by azalaeeight, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. azalaeeight

    azalaeeight New Member

    Dec 3, 2007
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    Former President George Herbert Walker Bush was shot down in World War II.

    I don't recall the details of the incident right now, but apparently he was one of the only ones not killed (if not THE only one not killed) in the particular incident. I'm sure there's plenty about this online. I may look it up and return later.
  2. katharina

    katharina New Member

    Nov 17, 2007
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    He enlisted as soon as he turned 18. He earned his wings as the youngest Navy pilot at the time and all tolled, he flew nearly 60 missions. He was shot down and then rescued and earned his Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.
  3. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

    Sep 3, 2006
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    Photo here of Bush being rescued by the huge sub, USS Finback:


    Account of waht happened from here:

    On that sunny morning of September, Bush woke aboard San Jacinto prepared to fly one of the 58 attack missions he would fly during the war. However, this particular mission would end a little differently than his other 57.
    The target was a Japanese radio station on ChiChi Jima, located about 600 miles southwest of Japan in the Bonin Islands. For a time, the enemy on that tiny island had been intercepting U.S. military radio transmissions and warning Japan and occupied enemy islands of impending American air strikes. It had to be destroyed
    Before 0900, Bush and two aircrewmen (his regular radioman, Radioman Second Class John Delaney, and substitute gunner Lieutenant Junior Grade William White) strapped themselves inside an Avenger and catapulted off San Jacinto. Three other bomb-laden VT-51 aircraft, as well as a number of VF-51's F6F Hellcats, joined the mission.
    "I was replaced by Ltjg. White at the last minute," said Leo W. Nadeau, then an ordnanceman second class who flew as Bush's gunner on all but two of his attack missions. "As intelligence officer, White wanted to go along to observe the island."
    Nadeau, who was 20 at the time, added that the day before, Bush, Delaney and he had flown into ChiChi Jima and destroyed an enemy gun emplacement.
    "The antiaircraft (AA) fire on that island was the worst we had seen," he said. "I don't think the AA fire in the Philippines was as bad as that."
    "ChiChi was a real feisty place to fly into," Stanley Butchart, a former VT-51 pilot and friend of Bush, agreed. "As I remember, it had gun emplacements hidden in the mountain areas. In order to get down to the radio facility, you had to fly past the AA batteries, which was risky business."
    As expected, projectiles belched from the enemy's AA batteries as soon as Bush and his squadron mates were over the island. Tiny black puffs of smoke thickened around his plane as he approached the target and dove steeply -- so steeply that Bush felt like he was standing on his head. But before he reached the radio facility the plane was hit.
    Ltjg. Bush, who felt the plane "lift" from the hit, continued his dive toward the target and dropped his payload. The four 500-pound bombs exploded, causing damaging hits. For his courage and disregard for his own safety in pressing home his attack, he was later awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.
    Bush maneuvered the Avenger over the ocean with the hope it would make the journey back to San Jacinto. But the plane began to blaze and clouds of smoke soon enveloped the cockpit. Choking and gasping for air, Bush and one of his aircrewmen wriggled out of the plane and leaped from about 1,500 feet. His other crewman, dead or seriously injured from the blast, went down with the Avenger.
    Bush parachuted safely into the water, dangerously close to the shore. Unfortunately, the aircrewman fell helplessly to his death because his parachute failed to open properly.
    No one ever knew which one bailed out with Mr. Bush," said Nadeau, now a building contractor in Ramona, Calif. "I would assume it was Delaney, because as the radioman, he would go out first to leave room for the gunner to climb down out of the turret and put his chute on.
    "There wasn't room in the turret for the gunner to wear a parachute. As a gunner, my parachute hung on the bulkhead of the plane near Delaney. We set up an escape procedure where he was supposed to hand me my chute and jump, and then I was to follow him. The procedure took a couple of seconds."
    Nadeau added that he "didn't know what to think" when he heard the plan was shot down.
    "I felt bad that Delaney and Mr. White had died," he said. "I just had the feeling that had I been there, Delaney and I might have both made it out alive -- that is, unless one of us got hit by AA. Delaney and I had practiced our escape procedure constantly. He might have stayed to help White get out of the turret and delayed too long. it's one of those things that never leaves your mind. Why didn't I go that day?"
    Vice-President Bush said that he chose to finish the bombing run rather than bail out early because as a Naval Aviator, he was disciplined to do that.
    "We were trained to complete our runs no matter what the obstacle,"he remarked.
    Once in the water, Bush unleashed his inflatable yellow lifeboat, crawled in, and paddled quickly out to sea. The Japanese sent out a boat to capture him. Luckily, Lieutenant Doug West, a fellow VT-51 Avenger pilot, strafed the boat.
    "He stopped it," said Bush.
    Circling fighter planes transmitted Bush's plight and position to the U.S. submarine Finback (SS-230), patrolling 15 to 20 miles from the island
    "This was 1944 and there were very few enemy targets left," said retired Capt. Robert R.Williams Jr., 73, who was Finback's commanding officer then. "So, the main reason for our being on patrol was to act as lifeguard ard pick up aviators."
    According to Lieutenant Commander Dean Spratlin, Finback's executive officer at the time, the submarine had an area of 200 to 300 square miles to cover, which included Iwo Jima, ChiChi Jima and HaHa Jima in the Bonin Islands.
    A few hours after transmitting Bush's position, Williams, then a commander, sighted him on the periscope about seven miles away from ChiChi. He ordered the submarine to the surface.
    "I saw this thing coming out of the water and I said to myself, 'Jeez, I hope it's one of ours,'" Bush remarked.
    Spratlin, who is now in the real estate business in Atlanta, Ga., said he and Williams weren't worried about surfacing in daylight so close to an enemy island because they had several U.S. fighters flying cover.
    "We had a big sub (312 feet long), so we rigged out the bowplanes which gave us a platform where we could step down and pull him aboard," added Spratlin.
    While several of Finback's crewmen were helping Bush aboard, Ensign Bill Edwards, the sub's first lieutenant and photographic officer, filmed the rescue. The 8mm film later was sent to Bush while he was a congressman from Texas and was shown recently as part of a biographical sketch during the Republican National Convention.


    Bush in the cockpit of his Grumman Avenger.

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