George Bush Sr Is No
By John S. McDonald

I am an 82 year old Navy pilot and I am outraged at television's depiction of George Bush Sr.'s Pacific experiences. Now, I hear a book is forthcoming - Unbelievable!!
I was in the Pacific at the same time as Bush and flew the same Avenger airplane. A small room in the rear of the Avenger was occupied by the radioman. The gunner went through the room to get up to his turret. Both wore a harness to which a chest type parachute could be attached - The gunner had to come down out of the turret to put on his chute.
Bush said he was hit by anti-aircraft fire and the plane caught fire. Bush's squadron was primarily used for patrol and saw very little combat. Bush claimed he warned the crew, over the intercom, to get out - got no answer and he could not yell back because of the armor plate behind him.
He decided they were dead, so he bailed out. First, he failed to say he switched his mike from radio to intercom. Then being blocked by the armor is a bold faced lie! There was a sizable gap on either side of the armor. I used this space to call to my crew several times.
The tough old Avenger simply did not catch fire!! It had self sealing gas tanks. In six months of operations, I never saw an Avenger catch fire. If the oil or hydraulic systems were damaged, great clouds of white smoke would stream out of the planhe. I have no idea how many times i saw planes returning to their carriers trailing smoke but never a fire.
What really happened? It was the pilots job to hold the plane level and slow it down so the crew could get out. Most certainly, the radioman was helping the gunner with his chute when Bush panicked and left the plane. Then the plane rolled into a dive giving the crew no chance. This story went through the fleet and all the Avenger pilots i knew were shocked at what they heard. I heard speculation of a Courts-Martial.
Bush was very young. By his own admission, he reacted under stress. It is terrifying to have the cockpit fill with smoke. Possibly, he can be excused for reacting to fear and accepting it as another war time tragedy - but he has been glorified on the History channel, a book is being published, and worst of all, an aircraft carrier is to be named for him. This is unbelievable!! Bush performed badly and was certainly no hero.
John S. McDonald


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