We at The National WWII Museum were very sorry to hear about the passing of our friend, Senator George McGovern, over the weekend. As a WWII veteran, McGovern championed the Museum’s cause and we were fortunate to have him visit for a number of events, including the November 2009 grand opening ceremonies for the Solomon Victory Theater complex.
On April 18, 2009, Senator McGovern also delivered a lecture entitled Wars Past and Present to a packed Museum house. Watch this lecture in its entirety.
In February of 2009, his oral history was added to the Museum’s permanent collection. This addition was highlighted in the Winter 2009 edition of the Museum newsletter, V-Mail.
Although Dr. George S. McGovern is best known for his years in the US Congress as well as for his 1972 bid for the Presidency, he also served in the US Army during World War II. During the latter years of the war in Europe, he was a young 2nd Lieutenant and a B-24 Liberator pilot. When he completed flight training and deployed overseas, he was assigned to the 741st Bombardment Squadron/455th Bombardment Group of the XVth Air Force based in Cerignola, Italy.
During the course of his time in Italy Lt. McGovern flew 35 combat missions, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. His extraordinary bombing missions over central Europe and his experiences as a flight officer in the USAAF are chronicled in the book The Wild Blue by the late Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose.
A graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University, McGovern subsequently completed his Ph.D. in History at Northwestern University prior to entering the political arena.
In 2007, Senator McGovern supported the Museum’s effort to promote food drives. He spoke about how the war influenced his lifelong mission dedication to solving world hunger problems –
World War II introduced me to genuine human hunger for the first time in my life. I saw children handicapped and weakened by lack of food. I saw mothers and fathers in anguish, unable to provide adequate food for their families. I came back from World War II, where I served as a bomber pilot, determined to do what I could to help reduce world hunger, especially in children.
Our deepest sympathies are extended to the Senator’s family and friends as well as all who were touched by his life.