December 6, 2018

Submarines can be Lifeguards - Late President George H W Bush

(Above and Below) USS Finback, in a "Lifeguard" role, in 1944, saves the
late George H W Bush who died November 30, 2018.

Above video is from a US TV network (not Youtube) so may time out soon. 

By Stephen Huba, TribLive, December 5, 2018

"'God bless Andrew Palenchar' - George H.W. Bush wrote family of Hempfield man who saved him during WWII"

Seventy-four years ago, Andrew Palenchar emerged onto the deck of the USS Finback and reached down to grab the soaking wet arm of George H.W. Bush.
That rescue off the Pacific island of Chichijima [about 240 km north of Iwo Jima] profoundly shaped the man who would become the 41st President and [Andrew Palenchar] who served 35 years in the military, including tours in Korea and Vietnam.
Palenchar voted for Bush in 1988 and “loved” him as president, said his brother, Mike.
“He was pretty proud of Bush. He really liked him,” said Mike Palenchar, 80, of Fort Allen. “He used to say, ‘Back then, during the war, I never would have dreamt he would become president of the United States.’ ”
The World War II chapter of Bush’s biography is well known, as was his penchant for writing thank-you notes and letters.
The story of his rescue came full circle in February 2017 when, after Andrew Palenchar’s death, Bush wrote to his daughter, Sandra Bourassa of Aurora, Colo., to express his gratitude and condolences.
“Needless to say, I have a special place in my heart for the men who served onboard USS Finback — the men who saved my life. They were outstanding in every way, and the best America had to offer,” Bush wrote.
The former president died [November 30, 2018] and will be buried Thursday in Texas. In the letter to Bourassa, he described his fellow seaman as a “patriot who served his country with pride and honor and who loved his family and friends.”
Mike Palenchar, himself a Navy veteran, said he plans to frame the letter and display it in his home.
Both men served in the Navy during World War II — Lt. j.g. George H.W. Bush as the pilot of a Grumman TBM Avenger, a torpedo bomber, and Seaman Andrew Palenchar as a crewman on the USS Finback, a submarine patrolling near the island of Chichijima.
Bush had been shot down but managed to stay alive on an inflatable raft until the Finback reached him. Palenchar was at the helm and the first man on deck, according to his obituary.
“He said they picked up quite a few (aviators). He said Bush and them were soaking wet,” Mike Palenchar said.
Bush was kept aboard the Finback for about two months, until he was returned to the USS San Jacinto, an aircraft carrier, to participate in operations in the Philippines.
Palenchar, who returned with the crew of the Finback to Pearl Harbor, went on to a long career in the military, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He retired as an Army lieutenant colonel in 1979 and moved to South Carolina.
“How he made it through all those wars, it’s unbelievable,” his brother said.
Palenchar did not talk much about the Bush rescue over the years. He declined an invitation to attend the Bush inaugural parade in 1989. But he always thought highly of the president, Mike Palenchar said.
“My brother was a strict Republican,” he said.
Bush’s letter, dated Feb. 27, 2017, closes by saying, “To you and all your family, Barbara and I send our respects and our heartfelt condolences. God bless Andrew Palenchar.”"
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib


1.  "MISSION: LIFEGUARD American Submarines in the Pacific Recovered Downed Pilots"
      by NATHANIEL S. PATCH and

2.  From "Save Our Souls: Rescues Made By U.S. Submarines During WWII"
      By Douglas E. Campbell 

"At last count, nearly 2,400 people can claim that their lives were saved by a U.S. submarine during World War II. 

Of that number, 523 Allied aviators could claim that distinction after crashing their aircraft into the sea and being saved by a submarine operating in the “Lifeguard League.” 

The remaining number were a collection of other military and civilian personnel along various walks of life. 

Some of those rescued went on to retire as senior military officers including U.S. Navy Admirals, some back to missionary work, some to manage large companies in later years, some to philanthropic endeavors to pay everyone back for saving their lives. 

It is a story worth telling."


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