Regarding Lee May's story (Part I, Aug. 13), quoting an ex-Navy gunner's claim that George Bush could have saved his crewmen by ditching his TBM in World War II rather than ordering them to bail out, please let me help set the record straight.
As the author of "Kataki" (McGraw Hill), I used this same Chichijima mission, and George Bush himself, in a crucial scene in my novel.
Besides visiting the island myself, I obtained from Navy archives the log of the Finback, the submarine that rescued Bush. I have his squadron diary, and the Navy's citation for his Distinguished Flying Cross. I interviewed Leo Nadeau, his regular gunner. Nadeau would have made the flight had he not been replaced by Lt. (jg) Ted White, a friend of a friend of Bush's.
All my evidence suggests that the plane was indeed on fire and that the decision to order his two crewmen to bail out was the only one available.