George McGovern and World War Two
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on October 21st, 2012
McGovern is being feted today for his opposition to an unpopular war. Aside from his liberal politics, he had first hand experience that defined his protests. He flew 35 bombing missions over Germany in World War Two.
I am a trustee on the Board for the National World War Two Museum. George McGovern is precisely why it’s important that we have the museum. An average American from the middle of the country, he volunteered and his life was shaped by the experience of participating in that war.
Stephen Ambrose was the driving force behind the museum, and his spirit still lives on. McGovern’s spirt lives on as well. Fortunately, McGovern has preserved his experiences in both print, and video so generations from now we can learn from them.
I remembered the breakfasts before daylight and then seeing a bomber heavily loaded with men, bombs and high octane gasoline exploding on take-off with ten men who had been laughing over breakfast minutes before blown to bits of burned flesh. I could still see the image of a bomber flying near me that took a direct hit over the target, caught fire and exploding in pieces over enemy territory–no parachutes seen. I recalled my last mission flown over Linz, Austria–Hitler‘s hometown–which sent us home with a hundred anti-aircraft shell fragments in our plane and a seriously wounded gunner who had to remain in the hospital when the rest of our crew flew back to the States.
A person is always changed by participating in a war. You never know the collateral effects that happen because of you. All you know is that you are simply in a fight for your own survival, and the survival of those closest to you.
We had ten 500-pound bombs on that mission in our airplane. We dropped them over the target. But as we left the target, the navigator told me that one of the bombs was dangling in the bomb rack– it hadn’t fallen. So I dropped out of formation at that point and I said, “look, you guys either have to get rid of that bomb or we’re going to have to ditch this plane and bail out. I’m not going to land a bomber with a live bomb dangling in that bomb rack.”
So they kept working on it. Finally the bomb broke loose and it fell, to my dismay, on a little farmhouse right on the border of Austria and Italy. I thought, “you know, it was probably a young family.” It was at high noon having lunch during that period of the day, and I worried about that for years afterwards.
When I got back to the base, I was told there was a cable for me. My wife had just given birth to our first child– our daughter, Ann– and I thought, “gosh, you know, here we bring a baby into the world today and I probably snuffed out the lives of some young family that thought they were safely out of the war zone.” I told that story on television in Austria 40 years later.
That night, an elderly farmer called the television studio– a studio somewhat like this one– and said, “you know, I know from what the American politician said tonight on television that was my farm that got hit. It was right at 12:00. It was in the area where he said it was. I want you to tell him that I got my family out of the house, I got them into a ditch; we’re all safe.
If you have a World War Two vet in your midst, get him down to New Orleans to the museum. You will notice a change in them. They will begin to remember. They’ll tell stories. Video those stories. Preserve those memories. Generations from now, historians will be able to sift through them to make a cohesive narrative that people can learn from.
It’s also important for you to support the museum in any way you can. Even though it’s the nation’s museum-it gets very little government support. We need private donations to finish building it, and to digitize the collection so anyone from anywhere in the world can learn about why we fought the war, how we fought the war on the battlefield and at home, and what happened in its aftermath. They can learn about our successes, failures, and learn from mistakes we made in both tactics and policy.
George McGovern and his generation are vanishing. We still have so much to learn from them. With technological innovations at our disposal, we can easily store their knowledge for centuries to come.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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