George McGovern will always be remembered as the Democratic candidate defeated by Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. Aviators, though, will remember the longtime South Dakota senator as a fellow pilot who flew 35 combat missions in B-24 Liberators over German-occupied Europe. While over Austria and on his second flight as aircraft commander, shrapnel came through the windshield of his bomber, Dakota Queen, and barely missed killing him. On another mission, McGovern’s bomber was struck heavily by anti-aircraft fire that knocked out two of his four engines and blew 110 holes in his fuselage. Although highly decorated, McGovern bristled when referred to as a hero and replied by saying that the heroes are the ones who never came home. McGovern took his final flight west October 21, 2012.
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