Skip to comments.Greatest Generation: Boisean helped save life of George H.W. Bush
Posted on 08/20/2007 3:53:27 PM PDT by llevrok
Nat Adams never told anyone about the contents of the Navy footlocker in his basement. The only time he showed them to anyone was when his sons Tom and John, then small, wanted to "play Navy."
With his death appearing imminent, family members prepared to donate some of his things to the Nampa's Warhawk Air Museum. That's when they opened the footlocker.
Inside was a stunning array of military medals, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He'd never bothered to mention, not even to his wife, that he'd been awarded one of the military's highest honors for aviators twice. Without Adams, there might not have been a President Bush. Adams was one of four fighter pilots flying cover when George H.W. Bush's bomber was shot down while attacking a Japanese island in 1944.
"Without your covering support," Bush wrote to Adams in a 2004 "Dear Blackie" letter, "I would undoubtedly have been captured, executed and cannibalized." "Blackie," nicknamed for his jet-black hair that turned cotton white, was awarded one of his Distinguished Flying Crosses for sinking a Japanese ammunition ship. The resulting explosion damaged his F-6 Hellcat so badly that he couldn't make a carrier landing.
When the nuclear aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush was christened last year, Bush invited his Idaho friend. "There were all these gorgeous admirals there in their dress white uniforms with medals down to their waists," Sally Adams said. "They were all coming up to Nat and saying it was an honor to meet him."
Lying on a desktop is a wooden plaque, a gift from a former president of the United States. Its four-letter inscription, CAVU, is an acronym for "ceiling and visibility unlimited." It was his squadron's greeting, and its farewell.
It will grace his headstone as well.
(Excerpt) Read more at idahostatesman.com ...
Here’s to ya, Blackie.
Happy landings. God be with him.
Very sad to see that generation go. My father was one of them. I think they tie the revolutionary war generation for the title of “Greatest Generation. “ They saved western civilization. I don’t know if our current generation would have fared as well in that crisis. I think we are too me-centered and not patriotic enough to have put on an effort like they did.
Blackie is truly one of the greatest generation.
Awesome post, and God bless this American hero! If we had a ‘must read’ section here, this would be at the top.
WWII: BOISE NAVY PILOT FLIES COVER FOR GEORGE BUSH
When Nat Adams, Boise architect, joined the Navy air arm in 1942, he had no idea that he would be flying cover for the future President of the United States.
But thats the way it turned out. Adams took his pre-flight at St. Maries College and his primary training at Los Alamitos, both in California. He was then sent to Corpus Christi, Texas, for operational advanced training in Navy fighter aircraft. In combat he flew the famous F6F Hellcat, powered by a 2,000 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine.
The F6F was capable of 300+ miles per hour and was armed with six 50-caliber machine guns. It could carry a 500-pound bomb as well.
Nat, or "Blackie" as his comrades called him, was soon in the Pacific flying off of three different carriers, the last one being the U.S.S. San Jacinto, an Independence class carrier (CVL) that was home to about thirty-six aircraft.
Also assigned to the San Jacinto was Torpedo Squadron 51, among whose members was the youngest pilot in the Navy, one George H.W. Bush. His aircraft was a three-man torpedo bomber (TBF) which carried a torpedo or bombs, depending on the mission.
Actually, before the end of the war, both Adams and Bush would be fished out of the Pacific by the U.S. Navy. The usual basic mission for Adams and his comrades was to fly cover for the TBFs. This called for engaging enemy fighters as well as strafing runs on both land and water targets.
Adams' crash landing in the water occurred on July 25, 1944, about six weeks before that of Bush. His flight was attacking a Japanese ship which, it turned out, was loaded with mines.
Their strikes caused the entire cargo to explode. This explosion developed into a giant mushroom cloud and sent metal parts flying high in the air just as Adams F6F passed over the doomed ship. It damaged a wing and tore away an aileron, a vital control element.
He tried to make it back to the San Jacinto but when that proved impossible, he bellied into the water alongside a destroyer, the U.S.S. Healy.
Although he was without his one-man raft, he swam over to the destroyer and was pulled aboard. Adams was forced to spend ten days aboard the Healy before he could get back to his carrier.
Photo of actual explosion of the Japanese ship
Later, in September, when Bush was shot down, Adams group was flying cover for a Bush bombing run on an island radio facility. Adams saw Bushs plane smoking after being hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire but he could not tell, from his position high above, whose plane it was. Only after he landed did he learn it was Bushs plane.
Bush was picked up by a U.S. submarine and taken to Pearl Harbor. He declined the opportunity to remain stateside, wanting to return to his squadron still in the thick of the fighting. Needless to say, those on the San Jacinto were grateful to see peace finally come a year later.
Perhaps not in the sheer numbers of men who fought that war, maybe not even in a like percentage of the population.
But the men and women who are in harm's way today measure up in every way possible to the WWII generation.
Thanks for the ping 7of9! What a cool story!
I guess I need to reboot this machine, the screen just got all blurry.
Fair winds and following seas, Blackie. If I make it, I'll see you on the other side.
“Very sad to see that generation go.”
It’s very depressing. They made one sacrifice after another to keep this country free.
“I think they tie the revolutionary war generation for the title of Greatest Generation”
I agree. They rose to a challenge that required an intense amount of sacrifice, including that of their sons and daughters. This was also after they survived the Great Depression.
And another the J.R. Simplot house.
I agree with you.
Our servicemen are still great.
WWII did not have a Jane Fonda, she would have been shot or hung as a traitor.
How many papers, radio or congress critters took the part of the enemy?
This article is BS. Bush flew a fighter, not a bomber.
Your post is B.S.
G.W. Bush flew a fighter in the late-60s/early-70s.
G.H.W. Bush flew a torpedo bomber in WWII.