Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99 per year..
Subscribe for Full Access

The Grace of God


An excerpt from George McGovern's diary.

1940s-WWII-GM-plane-climbing_edited-1 WEB

McGovern climbing into a training aircraft, 1943. Courtesy the Senator George McGovern Collection, Dakota Wesleyan University Archives, Mitchell, South Dakota

From My Life in the Service: The World War II Diary of George McGovernBefore he was a celebrated politician, Senator George McGovern served as a B-24 bomber pilot in World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving the lives of his crew. My Life in the Service features a facsimile of the diary McGovern kept from his first days of basic training to the end of the war. Hastily jotted in his exacting hand (a typed transcription is included), the pages convey the immediacy of McGovern’s wartime experiences. Purchase the diary here
Dec 20 spread

Click to enlarge.

Dec. 20, 1944. I worked up a good sweat again today. We had another rough one—again in 279, the same ship that landed on one wheel two days ago. Our target today was Brux, but I lost an engine short of the target. We had no sooner started for home than I last no. 3 engine and could not feather it. The first engine no. 2 came came back in partially after we came down from altitude but in the meantime no. 3 had caught fire. It continued to windmill until it froze up. I could hold altitude but couldn’t depend on no. 2 which was running rough. In addition to that we were low on fuel and the weather was bad. We had a 1500 foot ceiling and it was so hazy that the navigator could hardly help me at all. Sam was not with me and the navigator Lt. Vince apparently was unable to do much of anything. Ralph contacted “Big Fence” and they gave us a heading to the Isle of Viz—a little island near the eastern side of the Adriatic. We finally found the island and located the landing strip. It is a British fighter strip and too short for a heavy bomber to land on, but we made it O.K. by the grace of God. A C-47 which was taking off saw us coming in; so they waited for us to land and then brought us back to our base. We lost several planes and crews today in crash landings due to the shortage of fuel and bad weather. One of them is still unaccounted for.

Purchase McGovern’s diary here.

More from

| View All Issues |

December 2002

“An unexpectedly excellent magazine that stands out amid a homogenized media landscape.” —the New York Times
Subscribe now