Robert Russell Williams – Captain, United States Navy

From a contemporary news report

“Robert R. Williams, commander of the submarine that rescued George Bush whn the Japanese shot down his bomber in the Pacific in World War II, died on August 19, 1993 at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 82 and lived in Rockville, Maryland. The case of death was pneumonia as a complication of emphysema.

“He was a career naval officer who retired in 1960 with medals that included the Silver Star and a commendation from the National Reserarch Council. His rescue of Bush, the future President,occurred a few minutes before noon on September 2, 1944 in the Pacific Ocean off the Bonin Islands, a few hundred miles south of Tokyo. Bush, then a Lieutenant (jg) in the Navy, ws flying an Avenger torpedo plane from the carrier USS San Jacinto in a bombing raid on a radio station on Chichi Jima Island. After ground fire struck his plane, Bush bailed out just before it crashed. About ten miles away, the submarine Finback was on patrol. On receiving a message about the crash, Williams ordered Finback to the scene where Bush was rescued from his emergency raft.  The plane's two other crew members died in the incident.

“When Bush became Vice President, he renewed contact with Williams by writing to him. Bush invited Williams and his family to the 40th anniversary celebration of the rescue and to his inaugration as President, but illness prevented him from attending.

“A native of Syracuse, New York, he aspired to join the Navy as a teenager, when he enlisted in the Naval Reserve while still in high school. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1934, he joined the submarine division, serving on the Flounder and the Tuna before commanding the Finback. After the war, he was stationed in Jerusalem with U.S. forces and later worked at the Naval Research Lab in Washngton on the early design for the Polaris missile submarine. He graduated from the Canadian National Defense College, commanded the ammunition ship USS Ranier and served as an administrative officer at the Puget Sound Naval Yard. Surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Rose Viers Albert; two daughters, three sons and eight grandchildren.”

He was cremated and interred in the Columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery.

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