George H.W. Bush, skydiving
Former President George H.W. Bush skydiving on his 90th birthday. Photo credit: Dan Rather US Army

George H.W. Bush, known to family and friends as “Poppy,” celebrated his 90th birthday this year parachuting from a helicopter, one of several jumps he’s made to mark his birthdays with a nod to his career as a WWII naval aviator. He made his first jump on Sept. 2, 1944, when the plane he was flying got hit by Japanese fire over the Pacific. His escape by parachute became an essential part of his image as a war hero, a status that fuelled his political ambitions.

Here to mark the 70th anniversary of Bush’s first jump is an excerpt from WhoWhatWhy Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker’s bestseller, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years. This section of Chapter 2 examines the enduring discrepancies surrounding Bush’s story of survival over the Pacific.

(Note: Although this excerpt does not contain footnotes, the book itself is exhaustively footnoted and sourced.)

A Changing Story

The enveloping fog extends even to Poppy Bush’s most sterling political symbol: his record as a war hero. On September 2, 1944, the plane he was piloting was hit by Japanese fire during a bombing run over Chichi Jima, a small island in the Pacific. Bush successfully parachuted to the ocean surface, where he was rescued. His two crew members perished.

A documentary film about the rescue was aired as part of a 1984 Republican Convention tribute to Vice President Bush. And on September 2, 1984, forty years to the day of his doomed bombing mission, a ceremony was held at the Norfolk Naval Station, complete with a Navy band and an encomium from Navy Secretary John Lehman. Bush’s war service, Lehman declared, was the beginning of a career “which went on to mark some of the most remarkable achievements in the annals of American politics.”

The real story turns out to be far more complicated. In particular, there are two unresolved issues: What did Bush know of his crew members’ fate? And how badly was his plane hit at the moment when he decided to bail out? These are not merely hypothetical: as the pilot, Bush’s decision to ditch the craft would have doomed anyone still on board. Navy regulations dictate that officers who are thought to have abandoned crew members could be court-martialed.

On board with Bush that day were Radioman Second Class John Delaney, situated below in the plane’s belly, and, directly behind Bush, the turret gunner Lieutenant Junior Grade William Gardiner “Ted” White. Bush would claim in an early 1980s interview with author Doug Wead that he had seen at least one parachute leaving the plane.

In 2002 he told the author James Bradley that he had not known the fate of either of his crew members. After Bradley had finished conducting an interview with Bush for his book Flyboys: A True Story of Courage, the former president turned to the author and asked if he had any information on the fate of his two crewmen.

“It still plagues me if I gave those guys enough time to get out,” Bush said.

Bradley would later write in his book: “No one knew exactly what had happened to Ted and John that day, only that both of them died.”

Yet Poppy has offered multiple conflicting versions of the episode. In a letter to his parents following his rescue, Poppy asserted that after the plane was hit, he had ordered his crew members to parachute out. He was uncertain what happened next, he claimed, due to the smoke that filled the cockpit:

They didn’t answer at all, but I looked around and couldn’t see Ted in the turret so I assumed he had gone below to get his chute fastened on.

Another version surfaced in the 1980s, when his staff decided that Bush had previously been too modest and now needed to acknowledge his heroism.

They hooked him up with a writer, Doug Wead, who prepared the book George Bush: Man of Integrity. In that book, which got little attention, Poppy says:

I looked back and saw that my rear gunner [White] was out. He had been machine-gunned to death right where he was.

There also exists a tape of Bush being interviewed by Wead, as part of a set of interviews the author conducted with famous figures, including Jimmy Carter and former Israeli leader Menachem Begin. On that tape, Bush can be heard to refer clearly to White, and to mention that he saw that White was very much in the plane before bailing out:

One of them jumped out and his parachute streamed. They had fighter planes over us and they could see the chute open, and the other one… he was killed in the plane. You can see, [in] a torpedo bomber, the pilot is separate from the crew, but you can look over and see the turret, and he was just slumped over. [Emphasis mine.]

Another claim of Poppy’s would later be challenged: that his plane was effectively crippled. In Looking Forward, a 1988 campaign book co-authored by Bush and campaign staffer Victor Gold, Poppy writes:

The flak was the heaviest I’d ever flown into . . . Suddenly there was a jolt, as if a massive fist had crunched into the belly of the plane. Smoke poured into the cockpit, and I could see flames rippling across the crease of the wing, edging toward the fuel tanks.

Not so, said Chester Mierzejewski, the tail gunner in the plane directly ahead of Bush’s. Mierzejewski came forward to challenge Bush after noticing inconsistencies in public accounts of Bush’s mission that day. He was struck by how all the versions differed from what he saw.

Mierzejewski had the best and most unobstructed view, and could see directly into Bush’s cockpit. A nonpolitical man who had been Bush’s partner in shipboard bridge games, Mierzejewski wrote a personal letter to the vice president in March 1988, stating that his memory of that day was “entirely different” from what Bush had been saying in television interviews.

Bush, an assiduous letter writer, never responded, so Mierzejewski took his story to the New York Post in August 1988. The Post quoted the tail gunner as saying that only Bush himself had bailed out and that Bush’s plane was never on fire.

No smoke came out of his cockpit when he opened his canopy to bail out . . . I think he could have saved those lives if they were alive. I don’t know that they were, but at least they had a chance if he had attempted a water landing.

In interviews with other papers over the next few days, Mierzejewski, also a recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross, would say that he was inclined to give Bush the benefit of the doubt until he realized the extent of the inconsistencies.

Perhaps this problem with story discrepancies, a problem that would resurface time and again in Poppy’s life, so often it became a virtual theme, explains why Poppy Bush never penned a comprehensive autobiography.

There were too many secrets, too many different stories to keep straight. More than half a century later, when he was seventy-two years old, Poppy again began parachuting out of planes, ostensibly as a birthday celebration. He would continue this show of bravado and virility into his eighties. Jim McGrath, Bush’s assistant, said when the 1997 jump was announced,

The reasons behind this are strictly personal. It has to do with World War Two. When it happens, we’ll explain it.

But when the time came, no satisfying explanation emerged. Poppy treated his skydive as a novelty and a thrill—and never clarified what happened on September 2, 1944.


  • Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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What uninformed clap-trap. PRESIDENT Bush ain’t responsible for millions of deaths. Why don’t you post about those who really killed millions, like Mao and Stalin!

Tom Bylund

Okay , “President Bush” is responsible for millions of deaths in the middle east alone !



Tom Bylund

Thats B S – remember all caps .


“a mentally ill sociopath, that goes without saying…” Go climb on to a psychiatrist’s couch, yourself. YOU are the one with severe mental issues.

Tom Bylund

Yea , or psychopath if you prefer .

Oscar Romero

40 years to the day? Really?


Isn’t it obvious what happened? To be fair about it, many other 18 year-old junior officers have done the same thing and only some have been tried. Now the old man tries himself. He dares his ghosts to claim him…


“Now the old man tries himself.”

You forget one thing: GHW Bush is a sociopath. He regrets nothing.


Ok, it’s not a “trial” – he’s daring the ghosts to take him – attempting to outfox the Fates. Perhaps it’s “gloating”. But maybe he’s a “sociopath”, I don’t know – and the claim does seem, ahem, “unsupported”. Actually, “sociopath” or not, he seems to inhabit a realm called “pretaloka” – so in a sense he’s already died. (Pretaloka is the realm of hungry ghosts… The place where greed takes it’s toll, where regret has nothing to do with things)

Max Standridge

I’ve researched this period in his life a bit over the years, partly inspired by someone apparently running a radio ad for a book pertaining to it. There are a number of things about it, including what could be described as “funny looking” records on the ships Bush was on at times. Yet, I cannot honestly say that the larger set of info supports the fishy looking records actually being fishy. Bush was trying to become a member of the “Caterpillar Club” during this time, and the Chi Chi Jima flight was in an area of the world, latitude wise, and during the time frame, that he needed to bail out and become a member. He was from a wealthy family and maybe found it just too tempting to rationalize his actions. But I think his conscience has troubled him about such a borderline decision, ever since. It’s impossible to know why, but Bush was listed as “MIA” in Naval records during this time, yet the Chi Chi Jima bailout seems to be the closest he would have come to this status. And, in that case, he was never out of sight of his fellows in the squadron long enough to have been so listed. Bush makes slips of the tongue now and then, too, as you’ve said. This seems to have prompted someone to take up the seemingly dangling string, and put together a scenario for an allegation about Bush in the War. As I perceived it, it was timed to affect Bush’s behavior at a critical moment in a Presidential campaign when he was a major player, Reagan’s VP-designate. Timed effectively enough, such an allegation could have been an attempt at blackmail or political pressure by some party. Robert Maxwell seems a possible suspect, but in any case, with so many potential spins on it, and with the impossibility of really knowing the degree of damage to the plane that day before the bailout, we still have an open window for questions that just cannot be answered clearly. The conscience, though, is a funny thing: it has often set up criminals to work against themselves, leaving a trail of evidence they seemed blind about. Perhaps Bush’s has cropped up on him a time or two, as he has sought to block out his own hesitant thoughts about his convenience bailout that day.

Max Standridge

One other point, is that, almost equally interesting when you research it in detail, is Bush’s first of the two crashes: the one on June 19, 1944 during the Battle of the Philippines Sea. That time, official records say he water-landed his TBM Avenger after engine difficulties. But there are odds and ends that seem odd: it’s not impossible but quite unlikely that an aircraft could be landed during an active battle in such a way that the crew remained bone dry, and this condition seemed to have inspired some suspicion or scuttlebutt among some parties, perhaps including some Poles–which beleagured people were victims of business deals of the Bush family going into the War. Could it really have happened that way? Was Bush’s plane really in difficulty, or did Bush simply “arrange” to have himself and his crew picked up and taken to the USS Lexington–then intelligence hub of the Seventh Fleet–in order to deliver a message to Rear Admiral Reggie Kaufman? Kaufman’s daughter was about to marry Bush’s older brother, Prescott Bush, jr.
In 1944, a US Marine, Tom Devine, was stationed on Saipan Island, which is relatively near by fellow Marianas Island Guam, during the US occupation. While there, Devine saw James Forrestal, a business partner and friend of Prescott Bush, Sr., Bush’s father. Forrestal was seen in the night burning an airplane. Afterwards, Devine drew some partial conclusions, speculating it may have been “Amelia Earhart’s Plane”. But Earhart’s plane may have been found on Nikumaroru Atoll in the past few years, based on scraps found there and some ham radio transmissions from during the search for Earhart. Bottom line on all this: where was Forrestal during that time-frame, since his diary falls silent? Whose plane was he burning? Why was Bush’s crew bone dry when they boarded the destroyer after the alleged water landing? Had Bush water landed? Did Bush know how to water land–or is that the real reason he didn’t also water land at Chi Chi Jima? Why do official Marine records state that “no carrier based raids were carried out againat Chi Chi JIma Island between July 4, 1944 and February 1945” and why is he not mentioned in the log of the submarine Finnback, which picked him up off Chi Chi Jima, until October 1944? Why is the squadron commander’s log now undated? Why was Bush’s carrier’s log one of the last ever declassified from World War 2? The questions go on and on. I have asked more than that, and then some. What was going on with Allen Dulles during World War Two? Dulles, according to Loftus and Aarons, was engaged in massive illegal and even treasonous conniving with the Axis, including using a courier into Japanese-occupied Manchuria to hide illegal monies he’d made in Central Europe from advancing Red Army troops. Dulles was a friend, lawyer and business partner of Prescott Bush, Sr., all his life. Sorry, but, while there’s plenty of room for doubt, it just goes on and on…

Max Standridge

It’s more because of Bush’s situation at the time that one wonders a bit more. An ordinary GI, etc., you blow off that someone or some record is unclear, etc. But Prescott Bush had a certain amount to cover up, as did his friends Allen Dulles (then at OSS), Robert Lovett and Artemis Gates, both Secretaries of War and Navy, and Forrestal. These guys were implicated in a number of business transactions with the Axis not only before but during the War. Bush flew his first mission in the Pacific toward the end of May, 1944. Around May 1, his own father, on the board of directors of corporations closely affiliated with Standard Oil, had been such a director when FDR gave in to pressure to again sell oil to Fascist Spain–from where, it had been earlier found, oil was flowing into Hamburg to the Nazis. So, here’s Prescott, Sr., seeing this renewal of oil sales by his business associates to the Axis, while, a few weeks later, his son is flying missions against it. It’s that kind of thing…the whole murky backdrop of it all, that makes you wonder. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought though, except for that radio book ad I heard in Houston in the late summer/early fall of 1980. It took me about two or three years to get back to it, because I only halfway caught it in the traffic and static. The only thing that stuck with me, was that it never reappeared. Eastern Republicans despised FDR; maybe they also despised–and taught their kids to despise–his war aircraft, such they played games with them? Bush seemed to mature–maybe that was the thing. And, how can I deny his life was in danger from Japanese fire? Not any the less so, due to the actions of his own father and his buddies! Sorry, I’ll shut up, this is just something I tried to follow a little bit. I read an article somewhere, I think associated with Robert Lederman, a New York journalist, in which Polish Jews are quoted as saying they “spat the name Bush” when they said it, because of the dealings of Prescott, Sr., with the Silesian-American Coal Company which had cozy relations with Hitler in 1939 and fretted over the British declaration of War that year.


Inconsistences are not a big deal. Every recollection varies. If there are none you can be assured that the ‘memory’ is scripted. Split second decisions with great consequences are ever subject to what ifs and regrets. Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense.

Hunter McClane

honi soit qui smelly pants!


If you know how he laundered drug money through his fruit company in Central America when he was CIA directer, nothing should surprise you.


I always wondered at the time of his vice-presidential run about this story, but as a two-tour US Army Special Forces veteran of Vietnam (60% VA disabled from those adventures), I can testify that combat is nothing like Hollywood’s versions – it’s sheer bedlam, confusion, deafening, and often terrifying. Split-second decisions have to be made, often with little or no factual information and with life and death consequences. Nobody will ever know, likely including even Bush himself, just what happened in the skies that day. Though for strictly political reasons I was never a big Bush fan, I say people should let these speculations just lie.

Gordon Johnson

Based on my own experiences in the Army I think it is very likely that Bush himself doesn’t really know. Confusion is the master of every battle I’ve ever seen or been involved with. And adrenaline scrambles memories, while guilt edits them. I can personally attest that I have come out of a battle feeling that I had done fairly well for myself, my men, and those around me, and afterward been unsure whether I got a bunch of people killed unnecessarily. It depends on how you’re reliving it that day, through fear, guilt, determination…different things come into focus, and seem to take center stage in recollections of the same event over time. There’s probably some truth to all of the versions.

Also, sometimes memories of such things can be muddled or even completely blank – as in near total amnesia – immediately after the fact, but different aspects of the event can rise to conscious memory in later years. It is just an artifact of the body’s fight/flight chemicals scrambling thought.

Maybe he did make a mistake and bail out too early. Maybe he didn’t. It appears from the info in this article that he himself has doubts about the specifics. That is not at all unusual.


Ah, but such ambiguity does not a winning presidential candidate make. (A tragic case of PTSD maybe, but not “a Prez.”)

And, funny thing: even the haziest of heat-of–the-battle memories seems to grow only more heroic with re-telling — especially on the campaign trail.

Perhaps the real hero here is tail-gunner Chester Mierzejewski for publicly calling out Bush’s inconsistencies on so vital a character issue. Doing that these days is essentially volunteering to be forced from one’s home by harassment and death threats.

(P.S. With cogent, intelligent comments in such short supply these days, I checked out some of your others via your profile. My compliments on and gratitude for the fact that your post here is obviously neither fluke, pose nor snark. I especially enjoyed your wonderfully fact-filled responses.)


I agree with you. I often think back to the Gulf War and wonder if things happened in combat or they didn’t. If you take ten guys and ask them to describe the same event, each description will be somewhat different.


I have a hard time calling anyone “coward” that sat in the cockpit of a torpedo bomber during active combat in WWII. I had no use for the man as a President, nor his son, and that’s coming from a life long conservative; but I’ll say this in his defense, if you weren’t there when this happened, or you’ve never had your ass in the grass, then shut the f*ck up, because you’ve got no right to judge this man. He’ll be standing before his judge soon enough, and he’ll answer then, for what he did or didn’t do.


Never particularly liked Bush elder, though I was onboard with Bush younger after 911. In the years since Obama was elected, I am more than ever convinced that GW was the real niggah in the woodpile, so to speak!


But, in 2016; the JEB Is UP!

H.P. Loathecraft

I’m afraid I don’t understand the phrase “niggah in the woodpile”, nor would I ever think it appropriate or necessary way to express myself. But I speak English mostly

Tom Bylund

What do you speak besides English ?

Tom Bylund

Yea , I do have the right to judge this man , he’s left way too many bread crumbs over his trail to forget anything !

News Nag

“And adrenaline scrambles memories, while guilt edits them.” This is a great line of yours, and your entire comment is astute and helpful, much equanimity.


Thank you for such candid thoughts on the nature of memory under such stresses. My father was a bombardier in WW2 and though he rarely spoke of his experiences in great detail (you had to prod him), It was clear that the fatigue of maintaining concentration while the target of flak and enemy fire affected his recollections. But not so when he was a witness to other aircraft that had been hit. He could recount that as if it happened yesterday and with consistency. All the more reason to yield more weight to the account by Chester Mierzejewski.


As usual, great investigative journalism by one of the last great investigative journalists, Russ Baker.

Looking into obscure and recondite corners of the dubious history of one of our more doubtful leaders helps to ‘connect the dots’ and to see why America is not the ‘shining city on a hill’ myth that we’ve been told it is.

Here’s a man who in 1944 perhaps abandoned the crew members he was responsible for. This same man went on to become an influential oil businessman, the head of the very dubious institution, the CIA, the president of the United States and the father of another president who perhaps in the two terms he served in that office lead this nation into perdition and into a darkness from which it will never emerge.

George H.W. Bush has been presented to us, the American public as a benign, good-natured, sometimes bumbling but well intentioned leader of our nation. Thanks to Russ Baker and his investigations into the life of Bush in Family of Secrets, we can begin to separate myth from reality. And we can begin to see that some very nefarious events have been going on in the “deep” state–with the Bush family perhaps being among those at the center of this “deep” state–that very few know of and that virtually no one talks about.


Interesting…I remember standing one day out in front of the K-Mart close to where I then lived and somehow in idle conversation, some man telling me that Bush jumped before anybody else was seen to get out…he claimed to have been a witness…or maybe he just read the book by the struck me at the time and I never forgot it. Given the horrors of the Bush family, I find it difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt…let’s see what happens if another ‘band name’ Bush is a Jeb presidency…sigh.


Please no more Bushes and no more Clintons. We don’t need a political dynasty in this country.

payedfor nomad

There should be a bounty put on that whole bloodline and be done with them.


Yes….the best I can do is kill them off in a novel I am writing….it worked well with the Neighbor in my mystery novel…I killed him off in the 2nd page and he actually
died last month…..

Tom Bylund

The noose is closing on all of this cabal throughout the world and when it does people will see the complete BS we have believed all of our lives .


Bushie Sr. is responsible for two or three million more deaths than these two, given that he ran the JFK assassination, which lead to all of the US government’s unnecessary wars since Korea.


And poppy was with the CIA in DALLAS, when JFK was killed…


We know Poppy is a mentally ill sociopath, that goes without saying, but it’s interesting to look back into his past and see these early inconsistencies and how even in his youth he was more than willing to sacrifice the lives of his men.


Prescott Bush lost his bank as he was sanctioned for helping the Nazis with his bank. This is a crime family.

I don’t care for HW Bush I think he destroyed GWB. But no buddy but no buddy would abandon a plane that could fly back. Jap planes shooting parchuters, sharks, dieing w plane hitting you, jumping. You had to get out of the cockpit walk down wing and jump clear of rear of plane killing you. As I understand he did not want to crash on that island, a jap pow camp. The commandant of that camp would serve the brains of British prisoners to his officers for dinner. You libs are stone cold ignorant. If he was so prove ledge why did he even have to go into battle ?


Why are you taking the warmongering liberal interventionist line, also known as neocon bs?

What? Does your parents basement have Radon Gas?

H.P. Loathecraft

The “parents’ basement” insult is so 1998, right up there with pajamas and Cheetohs.
Do try not to be an underachiever, won’t you?


Well what do you expect from the only guy in America who can’t recollect where he was the day JFK was shot? Despite calling in a tip about it to Dallas police and being identified by many as being at the scene when it did happen.

I know one thing. Ronald Reagan and James Brady probably regretted not asking these same questions.


According to you nuts every popular political figure of the late 20th century was on that hill in Daily Plaza. How many people do you think can fit on that? You all are as dumb as box of rocks.

Matt Brinck



But for “Who …” on these burning Bush issues, the Goebbling stenographers of the pressitute brainstem media are the epitome of Bush-diving Co.-dependency with the CIA tiny turlitzer! Hopefully hereby, the Bush Company criminal cabal will be called and held to account. Thanks.

Pete J

I’m kind of late joining the discussion but a couple of years ago I read the book, “Family of Secrets” about the Bush family. A real eye opener with lots of documentation. This article is very interesting. Thanks for posting it.


No comment except to say thanks for keeping this from going down a hole.

Brian James

I’m no fan of Poppy, though I’m inclined to leave this one alone. Perhaps he could have hung in a while longer, possibly saving the crew in the process. Perhaps not. Given the chaos of the situation and the fog of war I have a hard time blaming anyone for doing what they need to do to survive. There’s always time to second-guess your decision… provided you live through the day– and I’m sure Poppy has spent many sleepless nights second guessing himself. Whatever else he may be a coward he is not. At best he made a mistake.

And as far as the revisions go I’d chalk that up to politics. Having lived through such an event why not spin it into something politically useful? I’m not saying its right, but I get it. If the story is embellished or partially fabricated that is hardly among the more serious of Mr. Bush’s crimes.

Hugh Jazzole'

But his son went on to desert during Vietnam & his dad let him get away with it. His father was a financial backer of the Germans so he has multiple sins to account for. A gunner on the USS Cleveland shot down a torpedo plane that was aiming for his ship; that is another reason why he survived.

Comments editor

‘ His Father was a financial backer of the Germans’
Are you referring to GHW Bush, or to his father Prescott Bush ?

Documents in the Library of Congress and the National archives indicate that Prescott Bush had business dealings with companies who were themselves connected to companies that bankrolled the rise of Hitler.

Tom Bylund

Prescott Bush was on the board of a bank who had its money confiscated during the war under the ” Trading With The Enemy Act ” he kind of left that out of his campaign speeches .

Comments editor

Thanks for the detail.


Remember the Bush family are known as the Family of Shame. All the terrible things they did over the years.


And now Obama is known as one of, if not the most destructive black man in United States history. Don’t you just love it?


I love that I can call both Bush and Obama ******** without bending my knee to either party. Don’t you just love it?

Mike Hunt

Quite an opinion piece Mr. Baker. Did you serve in the forces yourself ?


Why would that be relevant? It’s not.


To the bitter end, huh……..

If anything, this article presents facts and scenarios, with as little emphasis on personal opinion as possible. Granted, you’ll naturally salivate at the slightest mention of anything but glowing praise to the Almighty Poppy, but for the rest of us, there’s the need to know the facts.


There are no facts in this article. Just a highly unbelievable account from a tail gunner who realistically couldn’t see much but who had everything to gain from questioning it. Pathetic that you are anyone else could challenge President Bush on this.


My father was a tail gunner in a torpedo plane and was one of two tail gunners in his squadron to survive the war. He once landed in the brig for refusing to fly with a pilot who had been drinking the night before. Hotshot pilots were a dime a dozen during that war.


How pathetic do you have to be to challenge the heroism of George Bush? In the middle of the Pacific and you’re shot, you’re 19 yrs old and probably delusional in the fog of water. This is just flat out disgusting and the the motives of the so-called “non-political” serviceman? Sure he saw everything clear as could be, just like a movie. Nonsense and the worst of what politics has become.

William Bruce Wilhite

In the heat of battle, no one can be sure about anything. Anyone that says he can remember everything perfectly is wrong. He thinks he remembers it exactly, but that’s impossible. All the participants and witnesses will have discrepancies in their testimonies. Anyone who’s ever been through highly dramatic events knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Tom Bylund

I remember a man named Jack Kennedy, who saved his entire crew after his PT boat was cut in half by a Japanese Destroyer , his memories along with those of the saved crew are in a book “Profiles In Courage “.

William Bruce Wilhite

I vaguely remembered a JFK quote. So I had to Google it. From the JFKlibrary-dot-org, when asked to explain how he had come to be a hero, Kennedy replied laconically, “It was involuntary. They sank my boat.”

Tom Bylund

A three day ordeal I think.

William Bruce Wilhite

The ordeal was heroic. Whatever people may say about JFK, those three days proved his excellent character. That makes him a hero in my book.


On a clear night with calm seas and good visibility, one of the fastest and most maneuverable vessels in the history of naval warfare was run over by a Japanese destroyer as it sat dead in the water. How could thus have happened? Everyone was asleep. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the captain, J.F. Kennedy. Read the citation for his Navy Cross. It is for only the rescue of the crew, with no mention of why they needed to be rescued.
Anyone whose last name was not Kennedy would have spent the rest if the war in the Portsmouth Naval Prison.

Tom Bylund

You are right Michael but saving the crew was worth the Navy Cross , I knew of officers who saved themselves from the tip of the spear and let their men bleed or die.


I tend to believe poppy Bush was no hero. He bailed out to save his own life. That plane he flew was built to survive a sea crash landing. He left his ‘buddies’ to perish. .

Jim Causey

I thought liberals would follow their hero, comrade Hillary, and say something to the effect of what does it matter now. I realize you socialists don’t realize what hypocrites you are, but celebrating a woman who doesn’t care to talk about the men she recently let die and trying to dredge up a conspiracy about a WW2 shoot down only serves to make you look like the leftist fools you are.


This is the danger of letting one’s status as a “war hero” become their ticket to political power. Perhaps this was an adequate qualification for office in previous centuries, but as our reasons for waging war in the first place become more and more tenuous being a hero of these wars becomes less and less compelling as a qualification for public office.