Sunday, October 21, 2012

R.I.P. Senator George McGovern

A great American, Senator George McGovern, died at 5:15 a.m. local time Sunday at a Sioux Falls hospice surrounded by family and lifelong friends according to family spokesman Steve Hildebrand.

Senator McGovern was 90.

A decorated World War II bomber pilot, Citizen McGovern said he learned to hate war by waging it.

George Stanley McGovern was born on July 19, 1922, in the small farm town of Avon, South Dakota, the son of a Methodist pastor. He was raised in Mitchell, shy and quiet until he was recruited for the high school debate team and found his niche. He enrolled at Dakota Wesleyan University in his hometown and, already a private pilot, volunteered for the Army Air Force soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Army didn't have enough airfields or training planes to take him until 1943. He married his wife, Eleanor Stegeberg, and arrived in Italy the next year. That would be his base for the 35 missions he flew in the B-24 Liberator christened the "Dakota Queen" after his new bride.

In a December 1944 bombing raid on the Czech city of Pilsen, McGovern's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire that disabled one engine and set fire to another. He nursed the B-24 back to a British airfield on an island in the Adriatic Sea, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On his final mission, his plane was hit several times, but he managed to get it back safety - one of the actions for which he received the Air Medal.

Rest in Peace, Senator... Rest in Peace, Citizen.

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