Friday, September 05, 2014

USS Finback Saves George H. W. Bush

This Week in History

September 2, 1944

On September 2, 1944, Lt (jg) George H. W. Bush was pulled from the Pacific Ocean by USS Finback (SS-230) after bailing out of his VT-51 aircraft.  Bush's mission was to destroy the Japanese radio station on Chichi Jima, which had been intercepting United States military radio transmissions.  After receiving a devastating hit by Japanese anti-aircraft, Bush still managed to destroy the radio station and was successfully picked up four hours later.  Bush returned to the United States after 30 days aboard the submarine.  Later Bush was elected as the 41st President of the United States; an event which may not have occurred unless he was rescued that faithful day.

George H. W. Bush
Like Finback, USS Razorback (SS-394) also picked up friendly pilots during World War II, totaling five airmen.  These missions were referred to as "lifeguard duty."  Razorback was assigned this duty during her fourth war patrol, from May 7th through June 27th of 1944.  While on patrol in the Nanpo Islands and Tokyo Bay area, she rescued LtCol Charles E. Taylor on May 25th and four crewmen from a B-29 Superfortress on June 5th.  Visit to read Razorback's war patrols.  In total during World War II, 520 airmen were saved by submarines.

Razorback and Finback share their namesake since both are named after a suborder of the baleen whales, commonly known as the fin whale.  These marine mammals are the second largest animal in the world, beautiful and fast, much like the submarines themselves.  The fin whale, besides being known as both the finback and razorback, is also called a common rorqual.

Fin Whale
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is the permanent home of the submarine Razorback, and while touring her you will hear tales of the life of a sailor and her history.  Razorback accomplished many feats during her time commissioned in the Navy, but it is her World War II history that you will find most astounding.  Stop by and take a tour to learn more about what Razorback, and her fellow submarines, withstood during World War II!

Author: Nicolette Lloyd


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