The year was 1944. During a high-risk bombing mission against the Imperial Japanese forces, an American plane takes a direct hit from anti-aircraft fire.
Incredibly, this one plane, this one mission, and this one round from a Japanese gun would play a key role in shaping the fate of the Western world for the next seven years.
A Story of an Incredible Avenger Pilot
George, a TBF Avenger Pilot, was sent to the front in the spring of 1944. Upon his arrival in the Pacific, the war against Japan was reaching its climax.
He would later on take part in one of the largest and most dramatic aerial battles in World War II- the Marianas Turkey Shoot.
A Fateful Day
On September 2, 1944, George and three other Avengers were assigned to take part in a raid against a small Japanese island, Chichijima.
However, this island is well-defended and when George and the others came for their bombing runs, Japanese anti-aircraft opened up on them.
Before he could release his payload, an anti-aircraft round struck George’s Avenger, and almost immediately his plane caught fire. George knew he needed to act fast. Despite the fact that he and his plane were literally on fire, he released the bombs from Bombay, hitting multiple targets on the ground below.
George managed to keep the air up on the air somehow and instead of bailing out, he took his chances on the burning plane, trying to get as far from enemy troops as possible before going down.
A Trying Ordeal
Once they were several miles away from the island, George asked his surviving crew member to bail out, but tragically, the parachute didn’t deploy, and George’s fellow airman fell to his death.
Fortunately for George, his parachute deployed, and he was able to land safely in the Pacific waters. After floating for hours, he was picked up by a USS finback, an American submarine. He remained there for a month until he reunited with his shipmates on USS Jacinto, ending his traumatic ordeal.
The One Bullet That Changed World History
This young pilot, George, would, later on, grow up to live quite a life. He would go on to be a member of the US House of Representatives, the director of the CIA, and finally, the 41st President of the United States.
This aviator is no other than George H.W. Bush. However, all of this was only possible because young George was able to survive this unbelievable ordeal in the Pacific Theater as a combat pilot.
If an anti-aircraft round that had struck the engine of his plane had hit a few feet closer, had he be given a fault parachute instead of his wingman, or had he be one of the 50 percent of the aviators on board the USS San Jacinto that died in this combat, then it’s highly likely that the world is very different today.
Not only would the US have lost a future president, but they would have lost another US President well as George’s son would go on to serve two terms himself as the elected leader of the United States.