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Yale Skull and Bones Lt. William Gardner White USN - tailgunner of George H.W. Bush WW2 322

Started by American Heritage , Oct 31 2017 05:22 PM

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#1 American Heritage

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 05:22 PM

An interesting part of WW2 history here....I found a leather-bound book of photos of the Skull and Bones class of 1942 including Lt. William Gardner White AKA "Ted" White who flew in the same Gruman Avenger as President George H.W. Bush and was killed in action, receiving the Purple Heart posthumously.  Pilot Bush sometimes talked about the loss of Lt. White with much regret as they were fellow Navy-men and Yale Skull and Bonesmen.  There is a lot on-line about this incident.  I think the Skull and Bones pin was also sold belonging to White.


#2 American Heritage

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Posted 31 October 2017 - 05:52 PM

Action Over Chichi Jima (Sep 1944)

On September 2, 1944, Bush and three other Avenger pilots, escorted by Hellcat fighter planes, were directed to attack a radio transmitter on Chichi Jima. Planes from the USS Enterprise would also join in the attack. On this mission Bush's rear-seat gunner would not be the usual Leo Nadeau, but rather Lt. (jg) William Gardner "Ted" White, the squadron ordnance officer of VT-51, already a Yale graduate and already a member of Skull and Bones. White's father had been a classmate of Prescott Bush. White took his place in the rear-facing machine gun turret of Bush's TBM Avenger, the Barbara II. The radioman-gunner was John L. Delaney, a regular member of Bush's crew.

What happened in the skies of Chichi Jima that day is a matter of lively controversy. Bush has presented several differing versions of his own story. In his campaign autobiography published in 1987 Bush gives the following account:

The flak was the heaviest I'd ever flown into. The Japanese were ready and waiting: their antiaircraft guns were set up to nail us as we pushed into our dives. By the time VT-51 was ready to go in, the sky was thick with angry black clouds of exploding antiaircraft fire.

Don Melvin led the way, scoring hits on a radio tower. I followed, going into a thirty-five degree dive, an angle of attack that sounds shallow but in an Avenger felt as if you were headed straight down. The target map was strapped to my knee, and as I started into my dive, I'd already spotted the target area. Coming in, I was aware of black splotches of gunfire all around.

Suddenly there was a jolt, as if a massive fist had crunched into the belly of the plane. Smoke poured into the cockpit, and I could see flames rippling across the crease of the wing, edging towards the fuel tanks. I stayed with the dive, homed in on the target, unloaded our four 500-pound bombs, and pulled away, heading for the sea. Once over water, I leveled off and told Delaney and White to bail out, turning the plane to starboard to take the slipstream off the door near Delaney's station.

Up to that point, except for the sting of dense smoke blurring my vision, I was in fair shape. But when I went to make my jump, trouble came in pairs. [2]

In this account, there is no more mention of White and Delaney until Bush hit the water and began looking around for them. Bush says that it was only after having been rescued by the USS Finnback, a submarine, that he "learned that neither Jack Delaney nor Ted White had survived. One went down with the plane; the other was seen jumping, but his parachute failed to open."


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#3 katieony

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Posted 01 November 2017 - 03:29 AM

Really interesting...thanks for posting!

#4 Morlok

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 06:04 PM

I doubt many of these are out in the wild, from any year. To find one with such exceptional names, and such a fantastic link to WWII, I would say you'd be hard pressed to find another! Incredible find!

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