Though the USS Finback performed many daring exploits in the Pacific during World War II, she will forever be known for rescuing a 19-year-old aviator shot down among the Bonin Islands in 1944.
The Finback was a submarine launched from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Aug. 25, 1941 and commissioned Jan 31, 1942. She attacked destroyers, sank freighters, scouted shipping lanes and gunned down enemy craft. Later in the war Finback was assigned to lifeguard duty.
On Sept. 2, 1944, four aircraft attacked the Japanese installations on Chi Chi Jima as Finback patrolled nearby. The planes encountered intense antiaircraft fire and one was struck. Its engine on fire, the injured aircraft flew several miles away from the island and two crewmen bailed out. One man’s chute didn’t open and he plunged to his death. The other survived and floated in an inflatable raft while the Finback headed his way.
Four hours later, the Finback arrived and plucked Lt. Jg. George H.W. Bush out of the water.