That time President George H. W. Bush Escaped Cannibals


8th Jan, 2016

George H.W. Bush as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II

In WW2 nine airmen escaped from their planes after being shot down during bombing raids on a tiny island 700 miles south of Tokyo. Eight of these men were captured, tortured, beheaded and eaten. The 9th man was George H. W. Bush, the only one who survived.

I came across a particularly astounding insert on Wikipedia today, which has given me some serious new found respect for the 41st American President and father to George “Axis of Evil” W. Bush.


When George H. W. Bush was a 20-year-old pilot of an Avenger aircraft for the U.S Navy, his crew was sent on a mission in 1944 against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. Towards the end of their attack, they encountered intense anti-aircraft fire from the island of Chichi Jima and several planes were shot down, including the one Bush was piloting. The airmen bailed out of their planes and the horrific brutalities that awaited them on the island below was later discovered during war crime trials, but to spare their families the distress, details were sealed in top secret files. The secret transcripts were unearthed through the historical detective work of James Bradley who told their story in his 2003 book FlyBoys.


On the orders of Japanese Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana (pictured above), four of the eight airmen captured were butchered by the island garrison’s surgeons for their livers and thighs which were skewered and cooked with soy sauce and vegetables. At the trial it was heard the Japanese soldiers believed the human liver to be “good for the stomach”, as recalled by Adml Mori Matoba, who was hanged, along with Tachibana and three other soldiers, for murder and “prevention of honorable burial”. The U.S military and international law did not specifically “deal” with cannibalism.


The personal reports from the War Crimes trial on Guam. 

With eight of his comrades left to the fate of a nightmare island, the future president escaped a similar end because he bailed out of his plane further from the island’s shores than the other crews, and despite a bleeding head injury, managed to climb on to an inflated raft. His co-pilot’s parachute did not open. Japanese boats set out to capture Bush but several American fighter planes circled protectively overhead, driving them back with heavy fire. Bleeding, vomiting and weeping with fear, George H. W. Bush’s ordeal went on for many hours until the giant black hull of the USS Finback submarine suddenly surfaced right in front of his raft. Having escaped just the clutches of death, he said to his rescuers, “Happy to be aboard”.


The moment George H. W. Bush was rescued from his life raft by the USS Finback

Read more details about the ordeal on The Telegraph or buy the FlyBoys book on Amazon


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